Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said Tuesday that Belarusian opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya traveled to Lithuania amidst the protests in her home country, and was safe.
Tikhanovskaya’s whereabouts were unknown late Monday. Her support team had been unable to reach her by phone after she left the election commission building.
Incumbent Belarusian President Alexander Lukansheko claimed victory in Sunday’s election with 80% of the vote, despite widely held claims that the election was not fair.
Tikhanovskaya had also claimed victory on Sunday, telling reporters “the authorities need to think about peaceful ways to hand over power. Of course we do not recognize the results.”
Read more: Opinion: Belarus protests pose a real threat to Lukashenko
Second day of protests
Protests continued throughout Belarus Monday night, leading to at least one death. The opposition has accused Lukashenko of rigging the vote in order to win his sixth straight term in office. Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades at protesters in the capital, Minsk. Protesters created barricades and retaliated with rocks and petrol bombs.
Local media reported violence in other towns.
Tikhanovskaya’s rallies drew some of the largest crowds in Belarus since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. A former English teacher, she was initially reluctant to run in the election after she said she received an anonymous threat that her children would be taken away. She moved her children to Lithuania during the campaign.
A spokeswoman for Lithuania’s foreign ministry told Reuters “she is resting with her children.”
President Lukashenko has held a firm grip on power in Belarus since winning the presidency in 1994.
kbd/dr (Reuters, AFP, AP)