Can Belarus go to war?
Opposition leader explains Lukashenko's opposition to Putin
Created: 01/10/2023 12:52 p.m
By: Andreas Schmid
Svetlana Tichanovskaya, opposition politician from Belarus, is at Bellevue Palace for a meeting with Federal President Steinmeier.
© Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa (archive image)
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Opposition leader Tichanovskaya does not believe in a military escalation.
Minsk – Two and a half years ago, Svetlana Tichanovskaya wanted to achieve new political conditions in Belarus.
In the presidential election in 2022, her husband was supposed to run against the ruler Alexander Lukashenko;
but the regime in Minsk arrested him during the election campaign.
Tichanovskaya's plan failed.
After an election that was overshadowed by allegations of manipulation, including large protests, she is now the leader of the opposition.
She is the political counter-voice of the “last dictator in Europe” – and thus also a critic of Vladimir Putin, who is close to Lukashenko.
"Lukashenko understands that" - That's why Belarus is not more actively involved in the Ukraine war
"They are in the same boat," Tikhanovskaya said in an interview with
“They have the same goal of staying in power.” Putin and Lukashenko only met in December.
A talk in Minsk is said to have been about closer cooperation with a view to the Ukraine war.
There is already a joint task force, officially to protect the external borders of the Russian-Belarusian union.
In the past few weeks there has been repeated speculation about a renewed Russian attack on Ukraine from Belarusian territory.
Already at the beginning of the war, Russian troops had used the ex-Soviet republic as a deployment area.
Lukashenko has so far avoided direct involvement of Belarusian soldiers in the fighting.
However, the politician, who is no longer recognized as president by the EU, is heavily dependent on Moscow politically, economically and militarily.
Just before the handshake: Putin and Lukashenko at their meeting in Minsk on December 19.
© Pavel Bednyakov/Imago
However, Tichanovskaya does not believe that Belarus will allow itself to be drawn into the war.
Lukashenko would leave this scenario with “serious political damage”.
Although there are "some soldiers who are very loyal to the dictator and could serve in the Russian army", "the vast majority of Belarusians" reject the war.
"And Lukashenko understands that too."
Then the Belarusians would be seen as aggressors, and that would mean, just like the Russians, a visa ban and other sanctions.
Svetlana Tichanovskaya on "The Atlantic" about the consequences of a Belarusian entry into the war
Tichanovskaya compares Belarus to Ukraine and sees a change in mentality
Tichanovskaya, who now lives in exile, also sees parallels between Belarus and Ukraine.
The majority of the population wants to break away from Russia.
“Just like in Ukraine, more and more people here speak their mother tongue and not Russian.
These small, progressive steps are very important.”
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Tichanovskaya reports on a "change in mentality" in the country.
“They made us think we needed a strong hand, a dictator to keep us all in check, like Stalin did.
But when our youth went abroad to study at Western universities, a new generation developed.” Belarus is learning from Ukraine.
"Unfortunately, their struggle has led to war - not of their own free will, but for some nations it is the only way."