2021.03.04 10:49

Lithuania will not extradite Tikhanovskaya to Belarus, says deputy FM

LRT.lt2021.03.04 10:49

Lithuania will not extradite Belarusian opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to Belarus, the country's Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomėnas told DW, adding that any request from the regime would be “a purely performative act”.

The Belarusian Investigative Committee said earlier this week it had prepared documents for making the request to extradite Tikhanovskaya, who has been living in Vilnius since last August.

However, it will not be granted, as Lithuania regards the case against her political persecution, Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomėnas told Deutsche Welle earlier this week.

“I think the Belarusian leadership acutely understands that any request for the extradition of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya will be a purely performative act. Lithuania does not extradite people who face political persecution. Minsk knows perfectly well what our answer will be,” he said.

Read more: Minsk initiates process to extradite Tikhanovskaya from Vilnius

Asked whether the refusal to extradite Tikhanovskaya could further complicate relations between Vilnius and Minsk, Adomėnas replied: “Our ambassador was recalled for consultations back in October last year. [...] It is hardly possible to tense official relations any more.”

Lithuanian MP Emanuelis Zingeris told Deutsche Welle that Lithuania's support for anti-government protesters in Belarus had public support.

“Any Lithuanian government that would agree to hand over a single political refugee to the Minsk regime would not last a day,” he said.

Tikhanovskaya ran against Belarus' long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko in the presidential election last August. Lukashenko's claiming victory provoked mass protests across the country which were met by brutal crackdowns. A number of opposition leaders fled to neighbouring countries to avoid persecution.