When there is a new free and fair election in Belarus, its discredited leader Alexander Lukashenko will not have the moral right to run, former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said in an interview on LRT TV. She also announced plans to form a transitional government and explained her position on Crimea.
What must happen in Belarus to make it possible to hold free elections?
The most important condition before holding new elections is to organise new elections, to release all political prisoners who, unfortunately, are in prisons in Minsk and other cities.
And your husband among them?
Yes, my husband too. These are absolutely innocent people who are now jailed under such conditions.
How do you see the possible help from the European Union?
Since I arrived in Vilnius, I have met and talked on the phone with many leaders of European countries. And we very much appreciate the support that the countries of Europe and the whole world provide us.
But I tell everyone that what is happening now in Belarus is absolutely our internal affair and people themselves must deal with what is happening.
But if we are not able to bring the authorities to the table or something out of the ordinary happens – our situation changes every day – and we have to seek mediation of European countries, our neighbouring countries, then we, of course, will ask for help.
Nobel Prize laureate Svetlana Alexievich says that the only person Alexander Lukashenko listens to is [Russian President] Vladimir Putin. Do you hope that Lukashenko will also listen to European countries' leaders?
Of course, this is all politics. Russia plays a big role in the life of Belarus, this cannot be denied, but we are also surrounded by other countries with their own leaders, and we must be friendly with them.
How do you see the future of Lukashenko? Do you see him tried in court for violence against civilians, or fleeing to Russia? Or will he run for future elections?
This is not the issue that needs to be discussed now. We have a goal - a new free and fair election. The fate of Mr Lukashenko is a secondary question, a lot will depend on him. We have our goal, we are moving towards it, the rest is secondary.
But do you imagine him campaigning and telling people, here I am, pick me?
I think that Mr Lukashenko has no moral right to run in any future election, because people will no longer forgive his crimes. And since the new election will be free, open, and every citizen of Belarus will be able to participate, everything will depend on the moral principles of this person.
People in Lithuania would like to know your position on Crimea. Do you think that Crimea is occupied?
When I was a presidential candidate, I voiced the position that we have adopted in Belarus, that Crimea is de jure part of Ukraine, but de facto part of Russia.
We understand that there are international laws and that Crimea was transferred to another state in violation of these laws. But again, our task is to deal with the situation in Belarus, what is of concern to our people is a new, fair election. The situation in Crimea is very difficult and Belarusians have different views on this issue – and we would not want this issue to divide us.