VILNIUS – Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said on Friday that Belarusians opposing the regime are organizing an alternative online event to the "national gathering" being organized by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Currently based in Vilnius, Tikhanovskaya says she's sure the event will give a boost to anti-regime protests in Belarus.
"Belarusian people have started an initiative, like parallel to this national gathering. It will be on the internet, on a digital platform, where people will study how these candidates have to be elected. They don't have to be appointed by the president, but they have to be elected by themselves," Tikhanovskaya told a joint press conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Friday.
"We are fighting for democracy but it is also necessary to start to live in this democracy and this is the first step so that people take responsibility for their decisions. (…) I'm sure that after this event protest movement will rise up, it will rise up in any way, I will renew in any way, but this will be good reason for this," she said.
Lukashenko plans to hold the so-called All-Belarusian People's Assembly on February 11-12, the first time since 2016, and it could consider redistribution of powers. Such an assembly is usually held every five years, and structures loyal to the regime, starting from local councils and ending with workers' organizations, nominate their candidates.
Members of the opposition say Lukashenko, who rigged the results of the August presidential election, just wants to win time by suppressing protests demanding his resignation ands a new presidential election.