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‘What do you talk about with traitors?’ Belarus’ Lukashenko says he’ll speak with opposition politicians, but not Tikhanovskaya

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has revealed that he would be open to speaking with the opposition, but “not with traitors and terrorists.” The leader was referring to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who now lives in Lithuania.

Last year, after the country’s disputed official election results revealed that Lukashenko had won a sixth term in office, Tikhanovskaya fled across the border to Vilnius. From there, she created the Coordination Council, a group aimed at facilitating a peaceful transition of power from Lukashenko to a new government. The country’s Prosecutor General’s office has accused them of being extremists, and of wanting to overthrow the government.

“What kind of dialogue should I have with traitors and terrorists?” Lukashenko asked on Tuesday, according to state broadcaster BelTA. “Who are they that I need to talk to them? They have not taken a single positive step in respect of Belarus.”

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According to the embattled leader, it is important not to confuse protesters with members of the opposition.

“Listen, what can I discuss with the person who asked me to help her leave Belarus for Lithuania, where her children were?” Lukashenko said. “She went there and is doing everything to damage Belarus now. What am I going to talk to her about? Should I go to Lithuania to see her?”

In the president’s opinion, Tikhanovskaya and her supporters don’t want to engage in dialogue, but want him to resign.

“Putting pressure on me is useless. We’re going to pull through it, but we’re going to rip the masks off them. We will see who is who,” he concluded.

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