Merkel to meet Belarusian opposition leader Tikhanovskaya in Berlin

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to meet exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya for personal talks in Berlin on Tuesday.

Speaking to Der Spiegel news magazine ahead of the meeting, Tikhanovskaya indicated that the discussions could include the possibility of the chancellor mediating in the conflict in her country.

Long-time President Alexander Lukashenko remains in power in Minsk despite the rejection by Germany and many other countries of the August elections, in which he claimed a resounding victory.

Tikhanovskaya came second to Lukashenko, according to the disputed official tally. Her supporters allege she is the actual winner.

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the chancellor was looking forward to the meeting and reiterated Germany’s support for the peaceful anti-government protests in Belarus.

Directly after meeting Merkel, Tikhanovskaya is due to meet the leaders of Germany’s Green party in Berlin. On Wednesday, she is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Tikhanovskaya fled Belarus for Lithuania after protests erupted at how the elections were conducted, and other opposition leaders were detained by the security forces.

The European Union does not recognize the election results. On Friday, the bloc imposed sanctions on Belarusian individuals accused of involvement in election fraud and human rights abuses.

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