Results of the activities of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's Office

Results of the activities of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's Office

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The situation in Belarus after the 2020 presidential elections

On August 9, 2020, another presidential election was held in Belarus, which was not recognized by the international community and led to mass protests. As it was established by independent observers, Alexander Lukashenko did not receive a majority of votes, but retained power, resorting to brutal repressions. This was a logical result of his long-term rule, as a result of which a terrorist regime was formed, the rights and freedoms of citizens were suppressed.
In 2020, 55 people applied for registration as presidential candidates, but the Central Election Commission, as the main and universally recognized body for election fraud, registered only 15 of them. The electoral teams of these candidates were subjected to unprecedented pressure and many of their members were [1]arrested.
Nevertheless, 435 thousand signatures of voters were collected in support of presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka, [2]and 212 thousand signatures were collected in support of candidate Valery Tsepkalo[3]. This was a record result in the history of all elections in Belarus. Nevertheless, the Belarusian authorities did not allow them to participate in the elections, but Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was registered in a very dubious way, who submitted 110 thousand signatures [4]to the territorial commissions. There are opinions that in reality, some opposition candidates, including Anna Kanopatskaya, Andrei Dmitriev, Sergei Cherechnya and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, did not collect the necessary number of signatures in their favor. Similar discussions are held in every election campaign regarding opposition candidates. Making decisions on the choice of rivals and their inclusion in the ballot, Alexander Lukashenko is guided by his own convictions, and not by the reflection of the needs of society.
On August 9, 2020, after the announcement of the official election results, with clearly falsified results, protests began in many cities of the country.  According to a number of experts and the media, more than a million people took part in the protests throughout Belarus. [5]Solidarity actions in support of the citizens of Belarus were also held in more than 30 countries of the world. Despite the peaceful nature of the protests, disproportionate measures, including military weapons, were used against demonstrators during August 9-12, 2020, and beyond. At least 12 people were killed during and after the protests.  and tens of thousands of people were arrested and subjected to severe torture and humiliation.
The main reasons for street protests in Belarus:
  • Alexander Lukashenko's long stay in power and the accumulated fatigue in society;
  • generational change, demand for renewal, value shifts;
  • lack of effective socio-economic reforms on the part of the authorities;
  • stagnation, lack of opportunities for self-realization in social and political activities;
  • arrests of prominent opposition leaders;
  • non-admission of popular politicians to participate as candidates;
  • falsification of voting results;
  • Tough actions by the authorities to disperse spontaneous actions on August 9 and 10, 2020.
The events of Lukashenko's supporters were few in number, despite the use of administrative resources. At such meetings, there were demands for the authorities to carry out reprisals against protesters and opposition leaders.
Hundreds of thousands of Belarusian citizens were forced to flee the country to escape persecution. In 2020, the EU countries issued 64 thousand initial residence permits to Belarusian citizens, in 2021 - 149 thousand, and in 2022 - 309 thousand. Thus, from the beginning of 2020 to the end of 2022, Belarusians were issued 522 thousand primary residence permits of various types in the EU countries.[6] There was also a large outflow of population to other countries[7].
At the same time, numerous promises were made by the EU in support of democratic processes[8] in Belarus, most of which, however, were not fulfilled or distorted. Financial assistance from foreign foundations, governments of countries, as well as citizens who donated funds was used by various kinds of swindlers who had nothing to do with the protests in Belarus and participation in the presidential elections.

Formation of Quasi-Representations of Democratic Forces

After the elections, the Lukashenko regime was faced with the task of extinguishing the oppressive activity by any possible means, neutralizing political leaders and activists. However, this was done not only by arrests and violence, but also by more sophisticated means. One of these well-known methods was the formation of structures that would create the appearance of some common opposition centers. Taking advantage of the past mass protests, as well as the support from the civilized community, Western countries began to be offered such structures as the Office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Joint Transitional Cabinet, the Coordination Council and similar structures that have nothing to do with the protests and the opposition through interested lobbyists.
As a result of these actions, in the resolutions of PACE, the European Parliament, the European[9] Commission, in the executive and parliamentary bodies of other countries, these structures were recognized as the only representatives of the people. Such a situation gives rise to several extremely negative phenomena: growing confrontation in society, criminalization of these structures, corruption in their relations with representatives of foundations, etc.
From 2020 to the present, these structures, not authorized by the population to represent their interests, formed mainly from persons, including Lukashenka's former entourage, are still imposed as democratic forces in Belarus. In particular, PACE and the European Commission, as well as a number of national parliaments, including the United States, have set up working groups to interact with these "democratic forces" and, in fact, with mafia-type structures.
Acting on behalf of the democratic community of Belarus, these structures seek financial resources from the governments of Western states, which they then use at their discretion, including for the creation and support of structures dependent on themselves. In a number of cases, foreign citizens, [10]secret employees of the special services of Belarus and Russia, etc., become leaders and activists of such structures.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's office

In July 2020, on the personal instruction of Alexander Lukashenko, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was registered as the only opposition candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Belarus. She didn't have the resources to run a campaign.
After the illegal exclusion of Viktar Babaryka and Valery Tsepkalo from the presidential race, who were considered Lukashenka's main rivals, the teams of candidates agreed to form a women's "trio" headed by representatives of all headquarters: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Veranika Tsepkalo and Maria Kalesnikava. This association appealed to the public with two main slogans - to release political prisoners and to give a mandate to hold new elections. The initiator of the coalition was Valery Tsepkalo, who invited Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, and later Maria Kalesnikava, to continue their joint struggle.
After the defeat of the main candidate in the elections and the start of protests, the authorities did not have many options to stabilize the situation. The choice was between arresting the opposition politician or expelling him from the country under any pretext. The practice of neutralizing opponents has been used in Belarus since 1996. Well-known politicians have been killed, arrested, or pushed out of the country.  Alexander Lukashenko did not consider the situation that arose in 2020 as a political crisis, he was sure that the election campaign was orchestrated by external forces. Given his personal characteristics, he considered dialogue with opponents as a manifestation of weakness and was incapable of taking such a step.
Siarhei Tsikhanouski and Viktar Babaryka were imprisoned during the campaign, and Valery Tsepkalo was forced to leave the country with his family.
On August 10, 2020, the day after the presidential election, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke for three hours with special services officers in the office of the head of the Central Election Commission. The meeting was attended by Andrei Pavlyuchenko, the head of the Operational and Analytical Center (OAC) and presumably Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Gennady Kazakevich[11]. The content of their conversation is not yet known, but there is reason to believe that a secret agreement was reached between the parties. Tsikhanouskaya was faced with a very tough choice - either her children will grow up orphans, or she will leave the country[12].
On the same day, the head of the OAC, Andrei Pavlyuchenko, personally took Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to the border with Lithuania. The Belarusian authorities claim that Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya received 15 thousand dollars for the trip and this fact was not refuted by her.[13]
The decision to leave the main rival could only be made by Alexander Lukashenko. There is a version that the head of the presidential administration, Igor Sergeyenko, and possibly the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vladimir Makei, were directly involved in the implementation of the plan to leave. At that time, there was a ban on crossing the border due to COVID and it was necessary to obtain permission from the host country. Forced exile could also be to other countries, such as Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, etc. However, the choice of Lithuania was hardly accidental.  Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's children were already in this country. The business connections of the Lukashenka family could also be involved.
On August 11, 2020, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya arrived in Vilnius, where she was met by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius[14]. According to him, Belarusian officials "did not prevent her from leaving, they even helped" Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. [15]Subsequently, Lithuania provided her with housing and security. With the participation of Lithuanian citizens, the "Office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya" (hereinafter referred to as the "Office") was created, which did not include citizens who were directly involved in the protests in Belarus. In August 2020, V. Tsepkalo's team was excommunicated from further cooperation with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya,  they were forced to leave Vilnius[16].
Upon her arrival in Lithuania, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya severed almost all contacts with the joint headquarters of opposition candidates, which operated during the elections, as well as with her former team, which supported her during the election campaign. An Office was formed, around which a headquarters of political swindlers, as well as foreign citizens who had nothing to do with Belarus, began to form.
After the elections, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya received offers to take the oath and take office as president of Belarus, but they were rejected.
The departure of the opposition rival from Belarus contributed to the weakening of the protest movement and made it possible to reduce the pressure on the authorities within the country. There are different opinions about the consequences and how events would have developed in the event of a different decision on the part of the authorities.

Advisers to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's office

An analysis of the biographies of the main persons from Tsikhanouskaya's Office will help to better understand why these people turned out to be the main actors seeking to represent the entire opposition movement and the interests of Belarus.

Alexander Dobrovolsky, Senior Political Advisor

One of the first to visit Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in Vilnius was Alexander Dobrovolsky and at first became her chief adviser. It happened on August 16, 2020.[17] On that day, according to various estimates, from 300 to 500 thousand people gathered on the streets in Minsk and other cities[18].
Alexander Dobrovolsky has come a long way in politics before that. In 1989, he was elected a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the quota of the Communist Youth League. His chief of staff was retired KGB Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Usoltsev (this is his pseudonym; in an interview with the newspaper Izvestia, he introduced himself as Artamonov[19]). Usoltsev was a colleague of Vladimir Putin in Dresden, worked with him for three years in the same office and taught him German for several years.  about which he wrote in detail in the book "Colleague" published in 2003[20].
Having returned from Germany two years before Putin, Usoltsev "was seconded by his superiors to the Minsk Design Bureau of Electronic Engineering,"[21] where he met Dobrovolsky, and then joined his headquarters for the elections to the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR. Obviously, not only at the behest of the heart," as Usoltsev writes, but also as a probable curator of the KGB.
In many former communist countries, insinuations and accusations of politicians collaborating with the intelligence services are not uncommon in everyday political and public discussions. Whether true or false, they must be seen as an inevitable part of the public debate as a new political system emerges from the ruins of an oppressive regime.[22]
In 2005, in an interview with Belgazeta, Alexander Dobrovolsky confirmed his acquaintance with KGB Lieutenant Colonel Usoltsev and told his version of the acquaintance: "I worked at NPO Planar as a design engineer, and he was our deputy chief engineer for external relations. At that time, we were all quite opposition minded. When I was nominated as a candidate for deputy, he offered his help, and I agreed. He really helped a lot. Not by organizing any special operations, but by advice and consultation."
According to Dobrovolsky, he and the members of the headquarters "suspected, of course, that this person was connected with the authorities, but they did not know for sure. It was only later that it became clear." And the author of the book "Comrade-in-Arms" helped the novice politician by saying that "he had a Zaporozhets car, we drove it to meetings with voters."[23].
In 1990, Alexander Dobrovolsky was one of the initiators of the creation of the United Democratic Party (UDPB) on the basis of the Democratic Platform of the CPSU and other similar associations formed on the collapsing Communist Party. From 1991 to 1995 he was Chairman of the UDPB. Subsequently, for many years he was the deputy chairman of the United Civil Party, which arose through the merger of the UDPB with the Civil Party. The members of the party were mainly representatives of the former nomenklatura and the pro-government intellectual elite.
In 1994, Dobrovolsky, together with Usoltsev, worked in the team of presidential candidate Stanislav Shushkevich, who at that time was the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus and created the conditions for Alexander Lukashenko to come to power.
In November 1996, Aliaksandr Dobrovolski, together with Anatoly Liabedzka and several other deputies, supported the initiative of the pro-government faction of the Communists in the Supreme Soviet to include the issue "On deepening integration with the Russian Federation" on the agenda of the parliament. The draft resolution on this issue assumed that by the end of 1996 Belarus and Russia would unite into a single confederal state, and in the spring of 1997, there would be a "nationwide approval" of this decision. This the initiative was not implemented only in connection with the dissolution of the Supreme Soviet[24].
In 2001, Alexander Dobrovolsky actively supported the presidential candidate from the trade union nomenclature of the communist era Vladimir Goncharik, in 2006 – Alyaksandr Milinkevich, the head of well-known resource centers, which [25]laid the foundation for the ideological and moral decay of the Belarusian opposition, which turned it into a "pseudo-opposition", as the well-known politician Zianon Pazniak put it[26].
An eyewitness of many political events in Belarus, Aliaksandr Feduta, has repeatedly publicly criticized Aliaksandr Dobravolsky.
"It was this man who was twice responsible for the PR support of the election campaign of the "single candidate from the democratic forces" – both in the case of Goncharik and in the case of Milinkevich. He was de facto the ideologist of both defeats, not to mention the two-year boycott of 1999-2000," wrote Alexander Feduta on September 10, 2006.
"But if Polevikova and Dobrovolsky are democrats, then I am a supporter of tyranny. Such people should be shot" (by Alexander Feduta, September 10, 2006[27]).
In the 2020 elections, Aliaksandr Dabravolski was a member of the initiative group of the ex-chairman of Belgazprombank Viktar Babaryka, and after his arrest, he became an adviser to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who "called him at the end of June 2020 and asked him to advise on the program."[28]
On December 3, 2020, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya announced her readiness to lead Belarus during the transition period. Aliaksandr Dobrovolski presented possible scenarios for the development of the situation in Belarus and the participation of Tsikhanouskaya herself in them. However, none of the points came true[29].
On March 18, 2021, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya unexpectedly announced negotiations with the Belarusian authorities through international mediation. Perhaps this happened at the suggestion of Dobrovolsky, as a political adviser, although by this time the protests had all been suppressed and it looked like an act of political stupidity and provocation. According to Tsikhanouskaya, for the sake of the announcement of negotiations with the regime, she "worked for seven months with foreign politicians and organizations,  talked about the real situation in Belarus and enlisted support, assembled a powerful professional[30] team." This team continued to operate at the same high political level, as a result of which more and more thousands of citizens ended up behind prison bars.
In particular, in February 2022, a campaign was organized to ensure turnout for another political farce called a referendum. While Russian troops launched a military attack on Ukraine from the territory of Belarus on February 24, 2022, Tikhanovskaya's Office actively urged citizens to come to the referendum on the new draft constitution under Lukashenka on February 27 and put their marks on the ballots. The provocateurs did not bear any responsibility for this, since by this time Tsikhanouskaya's Office had already turned into a completely closed structure.
Under the scandalous non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), which prohibit the signatories who cooperate with Tsikhanouskaya's Office from any criticism of the Office for the period of cooperation and for the next 10 years, there is also the signature of Aliaksandr Dobravolsky. For any violations, according to this document, a fine of 30,000 euros is provided.[31] These are the models of openness and democracy for political structures, which turn them into criminal entities.

Franak Viacorka, chief adviser to S. Tsikhanouskaya

Franak Viacorka claims that he appeared in Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's office in September 2020 at the request of Aliaksandr Dobravolski[32]. In reality, it's probably not quite like that.
František Valentinovich Viacorka was born in 1988 in Minsk. Franak did not have any significant background in the Belarusian opposition, in business or science, and he did not play any role in the political protests of 2020. At the same time, Viacorka is a representative of the nomenklatura dynasty, which has its roots in the communist past. His grandfather was an economic adviser to the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Belarus (now Belarus) Pyotr Masherov and held a number of important positions in the nomenclature hierarchy of the time.
Also interesting is the biography of Vincent (Valentin) Viacorka, Franak's father, who undoubtedly influenced the future "adviser" of the Office. In 2009, Oleksandr Feduta published an article in which there are such lines that deserve attention.
"Youth (Valentina Viacorka, - author's note) coincided with the beginning of perestroika in the Soviet Union. The Belarusian nomenclature hasn't really felt anything yet, but the youth... It wasn't yet a feeling of being allowed, permissible, it just suddenly became clear how not to do it. "Volga" in the morning, a sandwich with scarce hard-smoked sausage for breakfast, father's ties "horizontally", endless Komsomol meetings - no need. But then, how do you do it?" [33].
Time told us how, the wind of change blew. Sensing the opening opportunities, Valentin Viacorka first became one of the activists of the youth movement, and then deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF), the most influential political organization at that time.
Eyewitnesses claim that while studying at the Belarusian State University at the military department, Vintsuk stood in the same ranks with history student Igor Sergeenko, who later worked as the first deputy chairman of the KGB of the Republic of Belarus (2013-2019), and since 2019 has been the head of the presidential administration of Belarus[34].
Be that as it may, in 1999 Valiantsin Viacorka joined the opposition to the leader of the Belarusian Popular Front Zianon Pazniak, and as a result this political movement split into two parts, and Valiantsin Viacorka became the leader of one of them. During his leadership, all ideologically oriented persons were expelled from the movement and the movement turned into a "small but well-managed party." As a result, there is practically nothing left of the former influential political force.
Let us return, however, to our hero, the successor of his father and grandfather. In his youth, Franak Viacorka, like his father, was a member of the youth movement for a short time, studied in Belarus, Poland, the United States, and worked for Radio Liberty. My father's connections with the right people helped him always and everywhere. In 2020, Franak Viacorka became one of the coordinators of protest Telegram channels, in which he provoked protesters from a safe place.  even when it was extremely dangerous for the protesters. The proposed places and routes of actions were the most comfortable for the authorities. The same practice continued in 2021, [35]although it was already of an inertial nature, like a desire to squeeze everything possible out of the energy of protest.
In Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's office, Franak Viacorka suddenly discovered completely different opportunities for himself: to become the main distributor of financial assistance from Western states, which literally poured like manna from heaven to the opposition after the 2020 protests. It was only necessary to direct it in the right direction in a timely manner. And here, in the best possible way, my father's connections and rich experience were needed again.  who was one of the heads of resource centers in the 90s[36]. However, Franak far surpassed his ancestor. The financial flow began to flow solely on his instructions.
To date, numerous intrigues, scandals, abuses are associated with the activities of Franak Viacorka, which has an extremely negative impact on the opposition movement, leading to its destruction and disintegration. Through the political tool of the Office and the Infopoint Media Network company, Franak Viacorka in the shortest possible time took control of almost all opposition media, which, in turn, led to the formation of censorship, a drop in the quality of the media and the departure of a significant part of the Belarusian audience to Russian media resources.
In 2023, more than 1 million euros were found in the accounts of the Infopoint Media Network, the beneficiary of which was Franak Vecherco[37]. The advisor, however, was unable to explain their origins. The Office's meetings with foreign leaders and donors, strategic dialogues boil down to begging for resources for the needs of political prisoners, democracy in Belarus, but the effectiveness of their spending has a negative result. In this case, the end justifies the means, even if it is monstrous.

Anatoli Liabedzka, adviser to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on parliamentary cooperation and constitutional reform

On October 5, 2020, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya appointed Anatol Liabedzka as a representative for constitutional reform[38], and on September 30, 2021, she expanded his powers, making him a representative for parliamentary cooperation[39]. Such favoritism may be related to the politician's past activities.
After graduating from school in 1979-1980, Anatoly Vladimirovich Liabedzka worked as a machine operator on a collective farm. In 1985 he graduated from the Faculty of History and French of the Minsk State Pedagogical Institute. In 1987-1990, he worked as deputy director of the Oshmiany boarding school in the Grodno region. In 1990, as a nominee of the district committee of the Komsomol, he was elected a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of Belarus of the 12th convocation.
In 1994, Anatoly Liabedzka was a member of the election headquarters of Alexander Lukashenko, and after Lukashenka won, he worked as an adviser and representative of the President in the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus. Thanks to this, as well as to his bright populist abilities, in 1995 he was again elected a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the 13th convocation. From 1996 to 2000 he was also deputy, and from 2000 to 2018 the head of the opposition United Civil Party.
Throughout his political career, Anatoly Liabedzka, together with other members of his party, constantly took part in various events in Russia, spoke in the Russian media, met with officials of the Russian government and opposition politicians[40].
In 2018, probably seeing no political prospects for himself, Anatol Lyabedzka left his party. However, fate is sometimes incredible. The year 2020 literally resurrects Anatol Lyabedzka from the ashes. He becomes a very influential person in the Office and determines who should and who should not be in Belarusian politics, as in the 90s of the last century, working as an adviser during the first presidential term of Alexander Lukashenko.
During his work in the Office, Anatol Lyabedzka, according to him, created 23 parliamentary groups "For Democratic Belarus" in other states[41]. However, almost nothing is known about these groups. There is no information on what issues are being discussed, who is in the composition, except for Anatol Lyabedzka himself, and who authorized the politician to represent the interests of the citizens of Belarus.
Anatol Lyabedzka is the author of a long-term campaign to develop a people's constitution[42]. The campaign, which was able to bring together various structures in the format of discussion and professional discussion of the main provisions of the document, turned into a farce.
Imitation of political activity is a threat to democracy because it deprives citizens of the opportunity to participate in political discussion and decision-making.

Aleksandr Azarov, head of BYPOL, former minister in the United Transitional Cabinet created by S. Tsikhanouskaya

Until 2020, Aliaksandr Azarov worked for several years as the head of the department for countering extremism and illegal migration at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus. He was engaged in the search and arrest of Belarusian citizens who had been fighting in Ukraine since 2014.[43] From 2022 to 2023, Oleksandr Azarov was a member of the Joint Transitional Cabinet.
On May 31, 2021, the Situational and Analytical Center, created on the basis of BYPOL, announced the Peramog plan. More than two and a half years have passed since its inception, but the Peramog plan remains just that: a plan.
At the same time, it is not clear for what purposes the data of participants is collected and selective calls are made to them. There is no information on how the safety and security of this data is ensured. At the same time, there are regular reports in the media about the arrests of citizens who joined this plan. The leak of data from the Black Book of Belarus project, the involvement of the Infopoint organization in this, participation in a special operation with a Ryanair plane, arrests of citizens during the "rail war" and the story of the plane in Mashulishchy. None of the public figures from the Office took responsibility for this. (For more information on this, see "The Peramog Plan: An Adventure or an Intelligence Operation?"[44]).

Valery Kavaleuski, Representative for Foreign Affairs of the Joint Transitional Cabinet

Valery Kavaleuski joined Tsikhanouskaya's office as a representative for international relations on December 10, 2020[45].
In 1998 V. Kavaleuski graduated from the Faculty of International Relations of the Belarusian State University and studied with Viktor Lukashenko. In 1993, it was possible to enter it only for a lot of money or under patronage. It was extremely rare to take child prodigies. He graduated from the IPM Business School and holds a master's degree from Georgetown University (USA). He worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus from 1998 to 2006. In 2001-2004, Kavaleuski was seconded to the Belarusian Embassy in the United States as First Secretary to work on political issues. From 2002 to 2006, he was the Chargé d'Affaires of Belarus in the United States. After that, he left the diplomatic service and lived in Washington from 2011 to 2020[46].
In the Office, as Valery Kavaleuski himself reported, he "coordinated the work" to assess the needs of civil society, including human rights organizations, the media, and educational structures (without discussion in the media community and among civic initiatives). According to him, a corresponding document was prepared and sent to the European Commission.  As a result, funds in the amount of about 65 million euros were allocated[47]. The effectiveness of spending these funds is unknown.
In 2021–2023, the assistant also dealt with sanctions policy issues. As a result of this activity, Belarus found itself even tighter in the Kremlin's stranglehold, and Russian troops began their aggression from the territory of Belarus.
The biography of Lyudmila Kovalevskaya, the mother of Valery Kavaleuski, also deserves some attention. In the late 70s, she worked as the executive secretary of the All-Union Society "Znanie"[48] in the Stolin district.  In the same period, from 1978 to 1980, Alexander Lukashenko was the executive secretary of the Shklou district organization of the Znanie society[49]. At that time, executive secretaries regularly met at the level of the republic to exchange experience and improve their skills.
In 2002, Lyudmila Kovalevskaya moved to Izhevsk, the capital of Udmurtia in Russia. In 2003, she created the Belarus Trading House, which later became known as the Belarus Trade and Business Center.[50] It was possible to obtain permission to open such a trading house only with the consent of Lukashenka, who has always carefully controlled the export of large consignments of goods.
In 2017, Lyudmila Kovalevskaya ran for deputy of the Izhevsk City Council from the United Russia party[51]. On May 11, 2022, she became the representative of the Udmurt Development Corporation in Belarus. [52]In the summer of 2023, she visited Vilnius without any obstacles, where Valery had already been for two years.[53]
Thus, Lyudmila Kovalevskaya successfully conducts business in the interests of the Lukashenka family, promotes Belarusian goods to the Russian market (even after Russia's invasion of Ukraine), and her son, a former official, visits Kyiv, meets with European and American politicians, discusses sanctions, etc. There is total control of the authorities over the opposition. The involvement of a close relative in commercial activities at the interstate level raises doubts about a possible conflict of interest and the real motivations of all participants in the process.

Results of the activities of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's Office

From 2020 to 2023, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya conducted more than a hundred foreign trips and meetings with political leaders of other countries. This became possible only thanks to the protests that took place in Belarus in 2020. However, the high-level meetings did not lead to a resolution of the political crisis in Belarus. For more than three years, the number of political prisoners in Belarus has only increased, and the country has become even more dependent on Russia. Photo shoots with foreign politicians did not affect the situation and the stability of the Lukashenka regime in any way. 
In 2020, the Office rejected proposals for the formation of joint structures with a clear distribution of roles, resources, mechanisms of interaction and coordination, with the mandatory inclusion of all persons who took part in the presidential election. Several initiatives announced by the Office without prior consultation with partners have destroyed the chances for synergy and coordination.
The "People's Ultimatum" announced in October 2020, which was supposed to end in a nationwide strike, [54]destroyed the remnants of organized protest in Belarus, ruined small businesses in Belarus and led to arrests. None of the employees of the Office took responsibility for this adventure.
In January 2021, the "Victory Plan" was presented[55]. The proposed document, which combines proposals for systemic pressure in 2021 and the revival of protest activity, turned out to be a tactical move by the Office in response to the leadership crisis. None of the points set out in the plan has been implemented.
The format of "negotiations" proposed by the Office in March 2021 was another voluntaristic step that buried the agreed action plan, and also replaced proposals to announce the beginning of a close spring, timed to coincide with March 25, 2021. After the failure of the promised negotiations with the authorities in May 2021,[56] the Office individually continued to look for a format for dialogue with Alexander Lukashenko. The Office's advisers argued that in November 2021 Austria will be able to act as a neutral platform for such a dialogue. [57]The event was prepared in secrecy without disclosing the goals, format and composition of the participants. As it turned out later, the chief adviser F. Viacorka seriously expected that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Uladzimir Makei and the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov[58] would come to him. As a result, the event became a bluff, since negotiators did not come to it even at the level of odious experts from Belarus.

Consequences of the sanctions policy against Belarus

Sanctions by the European Union, the United States, and Canada have led to a significant deterioration in the rights of citizens, both living inside Belarus and those in forced emigration. Taking into account the will of the people of Belarus, who expressed a vote of no confidence in Lukashenko in the 2020 presidential election, the non-recognition of the election results by the international community, the ensuing large-scale repressions within the country, the negative attitude of the citizens of Belarus to the act of military aggression of the Putin regime against Ukraine, recorded by sociological surveys, it is necessary to talk about clearly unfair measures against the citizens of Belarus, as well as about the clearly criminal actions of those who are not allowed to do so.  who is instigating these measures.
The EU began imposing sanctions against Belarus in 2020. The announced strategy of sanctions was to punish those responsible for human rights violations, not to harm the interests of Belarusian citizens. In fact, it turned out to be the opposite. Bank accounts of small and medium-sized businesses that had nothing to do with the Lukashenka regime were closed, personal accounts of citizens who fought against the dictatorship were closed, difficulties arose with the payment of pensions and benefits in the host countries for citizens of Belarus, the visa regime was tightened, many consular departments of European countries were closed, visa prices increased many times, etc.
With the support of Russia, the Lukashenka regime was able to compensate for the negative consequences of the sanctions policy in a short time. However, Belarus became even more dependent on Moscow, which resulted in the entry of Russian troops into the territory of Belarus and their subsequent attack on Ukraine.
Businesses associated with Lukashenka not only continued to flourish, but also received a new impetus. In 2021, there was a significant revival of trade between Belarus and the EU. Bilateral trade increased by 27.0% this year (to €12.9 billion), although in the previous 10 years the growth was only 13.3%. In 2021, the EU became the second main trading partner of Belarus, which accounted for 19.9% of total trade. In the first half of 2023, exports from the EU to Belarus amounted to almost 4 billion euros and increased by 1.6 times compared to the same period last year.  At the same time, the main beneficiaries of the trade were companies controlled by the Lukashenka family, as well as Russian organizations.
Businesses appeared on sanctions, when unauthorized persons who did not have the proper competencies subjectively began to determine the lists of companies and businessmen who were supposed to fall under sanctions. Obviously, this is just a fertile ground for abuse and corruption. There are also cases when various organizations sell residence permits in the EU for relatives of businessmen associated with the Lukashenka [59]regime, while the citizens of Belarus persecuted by the regime cannot even obtain the status of a political refugee under the Geneva Convention[60].
Non-transparent allocation and allocation of funds
The financial resources provided by the EU and other Western countries to support the democratic community of Belarus were in most cases distributed in a completely non-transparent way, as a result of which not only did not have a positive impact on the development of the democratic community of Belarus, but also extremely worsened the situation in this community, led to unprecedented sizes and forms of abuse. strengthening the influence of swindlers hiding behind the mask of representatives of the opposition.
The weakness of the opposition, media and civil society organizations is their dependence on external donors. There is practically no funding from the population of Belarus to support political and civic activism. This leads to the interdependence of recipients of foreign aid on various foundations that are interested in absorbing budgets, but not necessarily in supporting democratization. Donors provide funds for their own purposes, and the beneficiaries of aid are often intermediaries organizations and structures devoid of influence on internal processes in the country. This practice has led to the strengthening of authoritarianism in Belarus in the past[61].
Discrimination of Belarusian Citizens Forced to Leave the Country
Currently, there is a violation of the rights of Belarusian citizens in the EU countries. In particular, there are cases of refusals to open bank accounts, problems with employment, housing and many other discriminatory restrictions. There are also cases of unjustified deportations, revocation of residence permits, etc. These situations are so extensive that they are subject to separate in-depth consideration. At the same time, persons and structures associated with the Office do not have any influence on solving the problems of Belarusian citizens who have found themselves in forced emigration.
Lack of a strategy of action to end repression and release political prisoners
From 2020 to 2023, the Office failed to present an effective strategy to end repression and release political prisoners in Belarus, although this problem was actively used to obtain huge financial resources from Western democracies. Moreover, the Office and its associated structures created all sorts of obstacles to a broad discussion of this problem. Various initiatives, organizations, activists that operate independently of the Office are discredited by both the regime and pseudo-opposition structures.

Given the above, the actions of Tikhanovskaya's Office and other structures associated with the Office, as well as the Lukashenka and Putin regimes, during 2020-2023 led to:
  1. the suppression of the protest movement in Belarus and the destruction of its civil society;
  2. the intensification of repressions in Belarus, which have become the largest in Europe since World War II;
  3. the death of a number of political prisoners due to the lack of effective measures against the Lukashenka regime;
  4. mass emigration of Belarusian citizens, discrimination against them in different countries;
  5. strengthening the Lukashenka regime, while increasing its dependence on the Kremlin;
  6. the use of the territory of Belarus by the Russian military to deploy their troops and commit aggression against Ukraine;
  7. an increase in the security threat to European states, especially in connection with the deployment of nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus;
  8. to a significant deterioration of the situation in the democratic community of Belarus, to the formation of numerous criminal formations in it.


Since 2020, a number of European and international institutions in their declarations and statements, as the only representatives of the democratic community of Belarus, indicate structures not authorized by the citizens of Belarus. This significantly undermines trust in European institutions and democratic values, reduces the public activity of citizens, and contributes to the implementation of Russia's plans for Belarus.[62] As a result, the citizens of Belarus do not have the opportunity to get rid of the Lukashenka regime and return home in the coming years, while swindlers and criminals are thriving.
The Belarusian society has a great unrealized potential for effective action, if it can get rid of such pseudo-structures, through the formation of legitimate institutions of power, and not created by an unknown person. One of these institutions could be the parliament, which could become both a legislative and supervisory body during the transition period, returning the democratic movement and its structures to the legal field.
[21] Now it is the production holding of OJSC "Planar".