Belarus KGB Adds Opposition’s Tsikhanouskaya to Terrorist List
(Bloomberg) -- Belarus added former presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, now living in exile in Lithuania, and other political activists to a list of people it links to terrorism, as the U.S. seeks to pressure President Alexander Lukashenko to hold talks with the opposition.
Pavel Latushka, a former diplomat and minister of culture now living in Poland, and popular blogger Anton Motolko were also put on the list kept by Belarus’s State Security Committee, still officially abbreviated as the KGB. Motolko runs one of the biggest telegram channels in the former Soviet republic with more than 138,000 subscribers. Several police officers who joined the opposition were also added to the list.
Lukashenko, in power since 1994, faced down unprecedented mass unrest last year after his disputed re-election in August, which was condemned as fraudulent by the opposition and the West. The U.S., European Union and U.K. imposed sanctions over the Belarus authorities’ violent response, while Russia shored up Lukashenko, pledging loans of $1.5 billion and agreeing on oil and gas supplies through 2021.
Tsikhanouskaya is seeking negotiations with either Lukashenko or people in his circle. She is backed by the U.S. which may impose sanctions against nine major petrochemical companies in Belarus unless its leader releases political prisoners and agrees for talks with his opponents by April 26.
The U.S. already sanctioned KGB’s special force unit Alfa alongside special police troops and their officials in December for their role in the “fraudulent” presidential election last year and subsequent violence.
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