Tsikhanouskaya Calls For 'Global Rally' To Mark A Year Of Protests In Belarus.

Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya has called for a global day of solidarity on May 29 to support Belarusians in their struggle for democracy.

She urged people to join a "global rally" on the day that marks the first anniversary of the start of nonviolent protests in Belarus and "the harshest repressions in our modern history."

May 29 is also the first anniversary of the arrest of Tsikhanouskaya's husband, jailed vlogger Syarhey Tsikhanouski, for taking part in an unsanctioned rally.

Tsikhanouski, who was seeking to become a candidate in the August 2020 presidential election at the time of his arrest, has been in jail since then.

In March he was served with final charges that could see him imprisoned for up to 15 years.

Tsikhanouskaya, who ran for president in her husband's place and became the main opposition candidate, said politicians and the Belarusian diaspora would participate in the global rally on May 29.

"But the main thing is for Belarusians to support each other on this day in the country -- by all possible means: street rallies, symbols, letters to political prisoners," Tsikhanouskaya said on Telegram .

She urged people everywhere to hold demonstrations, join virtual events, sign petitions, write letters to political prisoners in Belarus, post on social media, and light up the facades of buildings in red and white, the colors of the Belarusian opposition.

"It's very important to send a clear signal of support to brave Belarusian people fighting for freedom, but also to urge the dictatorial regime to end violence, stop torture, release all political prisoners, and conduct a new free and fair presidential election," Tsikhanouskaya said in a statement issued by her office.

Crisis In Belarus

Read our coverage as Belarusians continue to demand the resignation of Alyaksandr Lukashenka amid a brutal crackdown on protesters. The West refuses to recognize him as the country's legitimate leader after an August 9 election considered fraudulent.

Belarus has been in political turmoil since authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka claimed victory in the August election, which the opposition claimed was rigged in his favor.

Authorities in the country have responded to anti-government demonstrations with a violent crackdown, detaining tens of thousands of protesters. Hundreds have been tortured, according to human rights groups, and several protesters have died as a result of police actions.

Lukashenka faces mounting pressure and new sanctions over the diversion on May 23 of a commercial flight and the arrest of a journalist, Raman Pratasevich, and his girlfriend, who were taken off the flight after it landed in Minsk.

European Union foreign ministers are discussing possible economic sanctions, and the United States on May 28 said it would reimpose sanctions on nine Belarusian state-owned enterprises on June 3.

The United States is also coordinating with the EU and other partners to develop a list of targeted sanctions against key members of the Belarusian government "associated with ongoing abuses of human rights and corruption, the falsification of the 2020 election, and the events of May 23," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement .

Radio Free Europe

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