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2021.07.13 09:33

Lithuania refuses to extradite Tikhanovskaya to Belarus

BNS2021.07.13 09:33

Lithuania has refused a request from Minsk to extradite Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the former opposition frontrunner against Alexander Lukashenko who was forced to flee to Vilnius in August last year, prosecutors said on Monday.

Elena Martinonienė, spokeswoman for the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office, told BNS that Minsk's extradition request was rejected on the grounds envisaged by a legal assistance treaty between the two countries. She gave no further details.

Belarusian Prosecutor General Andrei Shved told local media on Sunday that Lithuania had turned down Minsk's extradition request without providing any legal grounds.

In March, law enforcement bodies in Belarus said they were initiating an extradition process against Tikhanovskaya, because her close associates were allegedly organising mass unrest.

Meanwhile, Tikhanovskaya's representatives said she only supported peaceful opposition to Belarus' authoritarian government.

The former presidential candidate took refuge in Lithuania shortly after the August 2020 election in which she claimed victory against the authoritarian leader who has ruled the country since 1994.

The opposition and Western democracies say the election was rigged.

Read more: Lithuania designates Tikhanovskaya's team as ‘democratic representation of Belarus’

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