‘The European Union needs to be harsher. It needs to be braver,’ Tikhanovskaya tells Oliver Carroll

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t has been six weeks since Alexander Lukashenko wrote off his presidential rival, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, as a “wretched little girl”.

Since then, the former teacher and housewife, who only stood because the dictator jailed her husband, has surprised everyone – herself included. Heading a female triumvirate of opposition politicians, she ran an almost perfect campaign predicated on a simple pledge of fresh, democratic elections. Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory in the 9 August vote,  but she almost certainly won it comfortably.

In the grim crackdown that followed, Tikhanovskaya was forcibly removed from the country. Many predicted that would be the end of the road for her and the movement she headed. Instead, Belarus has witnessed a remarkable, sustained and increasingly creative civic awakening.

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News – The making of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Belarus’s leader in waiting