Belarusian opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who has led the biggest challenge to President Alexander Lukashenko’s 26-year rule, expressed her hopes to start a dialogue with the authorities, she told Polish Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
Belarus is facing its biggest political crisis since the breakup of the Soviet Union, with tens of thousands of demonstrators rejecting Lukashenko’s victory in an August 9 vote his opponents say was rigged.
Opponents of Lukashenko established a body, the Coordination Council, last week with the stated aim of negotiating a transfer of power.
Belarus launched a criminal case, accusing the Council of an illegal attempt to seize power and on Monday, three council members were arrested.
“The aim of the Council is to run a dialogue with the current authorities. I hope that dialogue will take place soon. However, the first condition is the release of political prisoners,” Tikhanovskaya told Gazeta Wyborcza daily in an interview published on Monday.
Tikhanovskaya, a political novice, emerged as the consensus opposition candidate after better-known figures, including her jailed activist husband, were barred from standing.
She fled to neighbouring Lithuania after the August 9 vote.
Tikhanovskaya said she would not run again if a new election were held, but expected her husband might. She would see herself working in human rights organisations, she said.
“It is too early to talk about it though. The main goal is a new election,” she said.