'Are you looking for a bloodbath?': Spanish MEP Manu Pineda blasts Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya
A Spanish Member of the European Parliament fiercely criticised Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya after her appearance at Tuesday's European Parliament committee, asking "are you looking for a bloodbath?"
A former candidate in Belarus' presidential election earlier this month, Tsikhanouskaya appeared via video link from exile in Vilnius, Lithuania to deliver a speech to the parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs on the current situation in the Eastern European state.
Using his speaking time to react to her comments, Manu Pineda, a Spanish MEP for the United Left party, said: "Mrs Tsikhanouskaya, you know the pressure the EU can bring to bear. We've seen it in Venezuela.
"Are you prepared to ensure sanctions against your people because they didn't vote for you?
"As president, are you looking for a bloodbath, as took place in Ukraine?
"Are you prepared for the people of Belarus to pay with blood, pain and suffering for the fact that they didn't elect you as president? Because this is what this is all about."
Tsikhanouskaya has become a symbol of opposition to incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko's rule. Dubbed "Europe's last dictator," he has been in power in Belarus for the last 26 years.
In an election the opposition claim was rigged, Lukashenko garnered 80 per cent of the vote while Tsikhanouskaya received just 10 per cent.
Doubts have been cast on the veracity of the results, independent international observers having been barred from entering the country prior to the national poll taking place.
Pineda also criticised her for casting aspersions on the outcome of the vote without having evidence that the election results were falsified in her opponent's favour.
"Well, Mrs Tsikhanouskaya got 10 per cent in the last election. She has been invited here to the European Parliament but she's here accusing the Belarus government of all sorts of things but we don't have any evidence," he said.
"Perhaps we should have invited a government spokesperson as well so we could have heard from them, too."
He went on to suggest that the unrest in the country was being used as a ruse to place NATO forces closer to Russia.
"I hear people saying they're convinced the results of the elections have been falsified, that this isn't a political game. Well, what is going on then?
"The point here is to try to bring NATO tanks and bombs to the Russian border. If there is interference from Russia, it is legitimate because it has been requested by the government of Belarus," he said.
"Our intervention isn't legitimate as it hasn't been requested."
The Spanish MEP was one of the only dissenting voices at the meeting, with Tsikhanouskaya being roundly praised by the committee and attendees. Her speech, in which she said Belarus was undergoing "a democratic revolution," was met with a round of applause.
Pineda was first elected as an MEP in 2019.