Belarus opposition urges end to Lukashenko’s ‘terrorist regime’

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Prague, June 7 (EFE).- The terrorist regime led by Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko must be stopped, the leader of the Lithuania-based Belarusian opposition Svetlana Tikhanovskaya urged Monday.

“It is a terrorist regime and it must stop,” Tikhanovskaya said during a joint press conference with the president of the Czech Senate Milos Vystrcil during a five-day visit to Prague.

Tikhanovskaya accused Lukashenko of repressing dissent and of the detention and torture of dissident journalist Roman Protasevich.

Protasevich and his Russian girlfriend were taken into custody on May 23 after Belarusian authorities forced a Ryanair flight on which they were traveling to land in Minsk.

Protasevich is the co-founder and former director of Telegram’s Nexta channel, the main information source on the anti-government protests that erupted after the presidential election last August.

Protasevich has since appeared on Belarusian TV several times and allegedly confessed to organizing anti-Lukashenko protests. His family and Belarusian opposition groups say his confession was coerced.

“All indications show they were beaten and subjected to torture, Protasevich was forced to speak on camera and confess to the Belarusian public to a crime he never committed,” Tikhanovskaya said.

The opposition leader, who ran against Lukashenko in August and is currently in exile living in Lithuania, said the repression in Belarus has toughened in recent weeks with the main target being the independent press.

Her husband, a well-known video blogger and activist, was arrested in May. He is being held incommunicado and Tikhanovskaya can only speak with him through lawyers.

The European Union’s decision to ban all Belarusian airlines from its airspace and airports was “strong and appropriate,” she added.