Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the main opposition candidate in Belarus’ disputed August presidential election, has been placed on the interstate wanted list by Russia’s Interior Ministry. The move follows a request by police in Minsk.
The database on the ministry’s website says that Tikhanovskaya is wanted as part of a criminal case. However it doesn’t specify which article of the criminal code she’s suspected of violating, or the precise crime she’s accused of in her homeland.
A police source told Moscow news agency TASS that Tikhanovskaya is facing criminal charges in Belarus, but Russian law enforcement is also obliged to look for her, as this is how the interstate wanted list works. They allow for the arrest and extradition of suspects among the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) members, which includes Russia, Belarus, and seven other former Soviet republics.
The Belarusian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case against Tikhanovskaya over her calls for a seizure of power, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. It began after the 38-year-old initiated the creation of an opposition coordination council, tasked with transferring authority in the country to her from President Alexander Lukashenko.
According to official results, Tikhanovskaya secured ten percent of the vote in the Belarusian presidential election on August 9, which was overwhelmingly won by the country’s longtime leader, Alexander Lukashenko, according to the disputed official count.
The opposition refused to accept the results of the vote, insisting that it was rigged by the government.
Belarus has been gripped by protests since then, with thousands taking to the streets every weekend demanding Lukashenko’s resignation and calling for a new election.
Tikhanovskaya, who claims that she’s the rightful president, fled the country for Lithuania several days after the vote over fears of persecution by the authorities in Minsk.
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