Belarus put Tsikhanouskaya on wanted list for making 'calls to overthrow constitutional order' - RIA

FILE PHOTO: Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya meets Greens party members at Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, October 6, 2020. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi reuters_tickers
This content was published on October 16, 2020 - 10:19

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Belarus has put opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on its wanted list for allegedly making calls to overthrow the constitutional order, the interior ministry of close ally Russia said on Friday.

Tsikhanouskaya fled to neighbouring Lithuania shortly after a disputed Aug. 9 election and has since met European political leaders and called for her country's longtime president Alexander Lukashenko, to leave power.

She later appeared on Russia's wanted list, something Russia's Interior Ministry said had happened through a mechanism outlined in a regional bloc that both Russia and Belarus are members of.

The exiled opposition politician could face up to 5 years in jail in Belarus if detained and found guilty, Russia's RIA news agency said. The Belarusian interior ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Security forces have detained more than 13,000 people during a post-election crackdown, some of whom have been later freed. Lukashenko's key political opponents are either in jail or have fled abroad.

"This (move to put Tsikhanouskaya on the wanted list) doesn't surprise anyone. It's clear the regime has no legal ways of retaining power," said Anna Krasulina, a spokeswoman for Tsikhanouskaya.

On Tuesday, Tsikhanouskaya set an Oct. 25 deadline for Lukashenko to quit or face nationwide strikes that would paralyse the country.

The ultimatum came after the authorities intensified their crackdown on anti-government protests and threatened to use combat weapons in the streets. More mass protests are expected this weekend.

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Anton Kolodyazhnyy; Editing by Alison Williams and Philippa Fletcher)

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