Lithuania refuses to extradite Tsikhanouskaya to Belarus

  • 2021-07-12
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania has refused to extradite Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who has been living in Vilnius since last August, to Belarus, prosecutors said on Monday. 

Elena Martinoniene, spokeswoman for the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office, told BNS that Minsk's extradition request had been rejected on the grounds envisaged by a legal assistance treaty between the two countries. She gave no details, however. 

Belarusian Prosecutor General Andrei Shved told local media on Sunday that Lithuania had turned down Minsk's extradition request without providing any legal grounds for that. 

In March, law-enforcement bodies loyal to Alexander Lukashenko said they were initiating the extradition process against Tsikhanouskaya after receiving information about mass unrest allegedly organized by her close associates.

Meanwhile, Tsikhanouskaya's representatives said she supported only peaceful methods. 

The former presidential candidate took refuge in Lithuania shortly after the August 2020 election in which she claimed victory against the authoritarian leader who has ruled the country since 1994. 

The opposition and Western democracies say the election was rigged and consider Tsikhanouskaya, who ran in place of her jailed husband, as the winner.