Belarus: What do we know about the video of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya?
Amid the third day of clashes in Belarus, opposition supporters have been circulated claims that their candidate had been placed under duress.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said on Tuesday she had left her country for Lithuania following the election results, citing the well-being of her family.
In a video posted on Facebook, a visibly distressed Tsikhanouskaya said she made the decision “absolutely independently”.
But in another video circulating on Telegram, she seemingly told her supporters to respect the law and acknowledge the election result.
Reading off a sheet of paper, the former English teacher apologised to her supporters and urged citizens not to protest on the streets to avoid “blood and violence”.
Campaign aides and supporters have claimed that the video was filmed under duress.
Tsikhanouskaya’s husband, an opposition blogger, has been imprisoned in Belarus since his arrest in May.
An investigation by Dailyrater has confirmed that the video was filmed inside the Central Election Commission (CEC) headquarters in Minsk.
‘Unprecedented pressure for three hours’
The same sofa that Tsikhanouskaya is filmed sitting is pictured in the office of CEC chairwoman Lidia Yarmoshyna.
In a video interview with Yarmoshyna, posted on YouTube in October 2019, the same furniture and window blinds can also be observed.
The same office, chair, and furniture are also pictured on official government webpages – identifiable markers that the video was indeed filmed in the CEC office.
Meanwhile, Tsikhanouskaya can be seen wearing the same white shirt in the video as she was wearing when she was last seen on Monday, handing in a complaint that the election was rigged.
Maria Kolesnikova, the head of another former opposition candidate’s campaign, told Dailyrater that Tsikhanouskaya was held at the CEC for “three hours”.
“Sviatlana was alone in the office with two high-ranking representatives of the security forces.”
“For three hours she was there alone, without any documents, without a lawyer – nothing at all.”
“I think that Sviatlana was under unprecedented pressure for three hours,” said Kolesnikova.
Kolesnikova added that Tsikhanouskaya later left the building through another exit, rather than the entrance where her aides were waiting for her.
She says they later discovered that she had left for Lithuania.