Alexander Lukashenko in an interview with BBC statedthat will begin negotiations with the former presidential candidate of Belarus Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, as soon as Russian President Vladimir Putin and opposition politician Alexei Navalny “sit down at the negotiating table.”
On November 18, Putin called on the Belarusian authorities to engage in dialogue with the opposition. “Yes, we know and understand that the situation in Belarus has calmed down inside the country, but nevertheless there are problems. We are well aware of this and, of course, call for a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition,” he said.
BBC columnist Steven Rosenberg asked if he would communicate with the opposition on Putin’s advice. “I talked with him now for more than an hour, more than an hour. And I didn’t hear any advice from him on any of the issues. This is the first,” Lukashenka said. “I can draw a parallel – as soon as Putin and Navalny sit down at the negotiating table , I’m instantly with Svetlana [Тихановской] I’ll start negotiating. “
When asked if he would like Putin to sit down at the negotiating table with Navalny, Lukashenka said: “These are his problems. I don’t play such wishlist. For me, if you want to know my point of view, Navalny is a corrupt person. And Putin will never sit down with him at the negotiating table. He is not an oppositionist for Putin, he is a traitor to the interests of Russia. “
Lukashenka also said that there are no political prisoners in Belarus, because the country “does not have such statistics.”
Repressions in Belarus after the presidential elections in August 2020 became the most massive in the entire history of independence. By data The Prosecutor General’s Office, more than 4 thousand criminal cases related to terrorism and extremism have been opened in the country. Human rights defenders claim more than 800 political prisonersand this figure is constantly growing. Thousands of people have been detained.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was Lukashenko’s main rival in the August 9 presidential elections, but a few days after the elections she had to leave for Lithuania due to pressure from the security forces. On October 16, the Belarusian authorities announced that Tikhanovskaya was put on the interstate wanted list. Several criminal cases have been brought up against her in Belarus.
On August 18, on the initiative of Tikhanovskaya, the Coordination Council of the opposition was created with the aim of the transit of presidential power in Belarus. The presidium of the council includes Belarusian writer and Nobel Prize laureate in literature Svetlana Aleksievich, international mediator Lilia Vlasova, Sergei Dylevsky, Maxim Znak, Olga Kovalkova, Maria Kolesnikova and Pavel Latushko.
Criminal cases have been opened against the majority of the council members. Abroad are Latushko, Dylevsky, Olga Kovalkova. 72-year-old Aleksievich is in Germany for treatment. Maxim Znak and Maria Kolesnikova were arrested. Lilia Vlasova was released under house arrest, and later the authorities canceled house arrest and other restrictions on her.
The Ministry of Information of Belarus has blocked access to the site of the TV channel “Present Time” on the territory of the country. The official reason is called “the dissemination of hyperlinks to materials recognized as extremist.” Residents of Belarus can read and watch Real Time materials through VPN, in a telegram and other social networks, as well as using mirrors.