Belarus opposition leader says any trial for Lukashenko subject to negotiation

FILE PHOTO: Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya meets with members of the media at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said on Thursday the possibility of immunity for Alexander Lukashenko, rather than facing any international trial, could be subject to negotiation to defuse the crisis in her country.

The opposition has said it is considering filing a lawsuit against the veteran ruler in the International Criminal Court for what it says is the harsh treatment of protesters who have taken to the streets after they say he rigged his re-election in August.

When asked on Thursday whether she wanted to see Lukashenko face the ICC, she said she could not forgive his “atrocities” personally but understood it should be a subject of negotiation.

“If it is the way out, for him to go somewhere to the seaside and spend his time there, I think it could be done,” she told the Globsec Bratislava Forum in the Slovak capital.

“Just leave us and we will build our country further. And that is it,” said Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to Lithuania shortly after the disputed vote.

Lukashenko, who denies electoral fraud, is grappling to contain two months of street protests that pose the biggest challenge to his 26-year rule. More than 13,000 people have been arrested and some later freed, while major opposition figures have been jailed or exiled.

The Belarusian government has denied abusing detainees.

The crisis has pushed Lukashenko back towards traditional ally Russia, which has propped up Belarus with loans and an offer of military support. Both have accused the West of meddling in Belarus.

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