Friday (January 29th): Underestimated Belarusian Women

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya

Name? Svetlana Tikhanovskaya

Westphalian identity? Belarusian

Age? 38

Why is he in the news? Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is very busy lately. The exiled opposition leader from Belarus is constantly meeting heads of states in Europe to rally support in her fight against President Alexander Lukashenko. Especially since reports of intensified arrests, torture and even deaths of protestors have surfaced. 

Why do we care? Because it is lovely to analyse and it involves one of our favourite villains, Vladimir Putin. It is him who decides what happens (or doesn’t) in Belarus. As of right now Lukashenko is loyal and obedient to him, as soon as that changes, Putin can either instruct the Belarusian media (“advised” by Russian experts) to change the tone on the protests or raise gas prices to further enrage the population. 

Why should you care? Because it has been five months since the fraudulent election and the start of the protests. And although the Belarusian winter is harsh, thousands of protestors come out on a weekly basis to challenge Lukashenko in the name of the courageous women leading the movement from abroad or prison. So just for withstanding the cold winter, this gets a 6/10 on our How much should you care scale. 

Who else cares? Juan Guaidó the opposition leader/president elect/former president of the parliament/we do not even know anymore. A few years ago, the EU bet all their money on one horse and it did not work out. Now Nicolas Maduro is still president and Guaidó has lost all momentum. Which is why the EU only gave political legitimation to Tikhanovskaya and no legal legitimation as to Guaidó a few years ago. 

Any further comments? Tikhanovskaya has said before that she does not see herself as the future president but rather a transition to another democratic election. However, this fully depends on whoever Putin believes he can influence best. EU sanctions are rather symbolic and hardly have an impact on the matter.

Joshua Dario Hasenstab

General Coordinator