“We can’t hang our hands because we all take risks. We will win, “she said, adding that only joint efforts can lead to new, fair elections, in which the country will elect a new president. She considers it more important than whether she won the August 9 election that “the election was stolen from us” and that “the election was rigged.”
“Only new, fair and transparent elections can restore justice, and only then can we find out who won,” she said. However, she stated that she did not plan to run herself.
According to her, she is ready to return to her homeland only after she feels that she and her children will be safe there. She told her imprisoned husband that she thought of him every day. She recalled that the release of political prisoners was one of the demands of the protest movement.
Belarus held presidential elections on Sunday, August 9, 2020. The commission did not release the three main opposition candidates: Viktar Babaryk, Valery Capkala and Sjarhei Cichanousky. She did not invite international observers either. The opposition eventually united for the first time, behind the wife of the last of them, Svjatlana Cichanouska. Above all, it wanted to free political prisoners and lead the country to new fair elections.
The Central Election Commission counted Alexander Lukashenko 80.1 percent and the Cichanous 10.1 percent of the vote. Many people did not believe such a conclusion, among other things, given the partial results in different places, which showed dramatically different numbers. A day later, Cichanouská declared the winner of the election and filed a complaint against the official result on Tuesday. However, according to her, she was detained by security officials and forced to go to Lithuania.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the elections non-free and undemocratic, as did other countries.
Protests, strikes and several days of police violence
Already on Sunday evening after the election, people took to the streets to protest and the police brutally intervened against them. The next day, she detained more than 3,000 protesters and, according to official figures, 50 people were injured. Workers from the Belarusian Metallurgical Plant, who went on strike, also joined the protests.
Police detained 6,700 people during demonstrations by Friday morning. There have been numerous reports of police brutality in interventions and torture in prisons. On Friday, mild protests began during the day. Many companies were already on strike, and state television employees were also considering it. EU ministers agreed to impose sanctions, which they began preparing. The police stopped intervening and gradually began to release the detainees.
Lukashenko has always described the protesters as puppets controlled from the West, he also named the Czechia. On Saturday, August 15, when protest rallies were held throughout the day in many cities, he called Vladimir Putin. He then announced that Russia had promised his country help with security. The Kremlin did not comment on this and briefly confirmed it only after the second phone call from the presidents on Sunday.
On Sunday, August 16, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in dozens of towns and villages. During the day, there was also a pro-government event in the center of Minsk, which was, however, much less numerous.
Many industrial companies joined the strike on Monday. Lukashenko appeared before the employees of the Minsk Wheeled Tractor Plant. To his surprise, the workers began shouting at him, “Leave!” In the afternoon, he admitted to holding new elections after the constitutional change. However, this was already unacceptable to the demonstrators. They wanted his rapid resignation, a complete transformation of the electoral process and a new election, the release of political prisoners and an investigation into police brutality.
On Tuesday, the opposition formed a coordination council, to which it invited some personalities and offered to lead the country to elections. Lukashenko refused, threatening to have the tools to assert his power. At the same time, he announced the transfer of troops to the western border, having previously spoken of the threat to NATO troops. Nevertheless, the Coordinating Board finally stated that it would not prevent Lukashenko from participating in the new elections.