Why are Belarusian opposition politicians unhappy with Tsikhanouskaya?

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya at a press conference after the 2020 elections in Belarus / Reuters / VASILY FEDOSENKO
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya at a press conference after the 2020 elections in Belarus / Reuters / VASILY FEDOSENKO

Criticism of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is heard not only from the representatives of Aliaksandr Lukashenka's camp. Some democratic forces in Belarus have publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the actions of Tsikhanouskaya's office.

What are the claims? 

For example, Zianon Pazniak does not even want to meet with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, let alone attend the "Conference of the new Belarus." "Perhaps, after the investigation in free Belarus, when the question of her [Tsikhanouska] arrest arises, I will get acquainted with her," said the politician in an interview with Radio Racyja. "Everything they have planned at the so-called conference had no meaning and will never have. It is all hollow and profanity. Thus, there is nothing to talk about," he said.

"They are listening to us, but they don't hear us"

Атака демсил на Тихановскую и Офис: чем недовольны оппозиционные политики?

"On February 24, the creation of a national authority [the transitional cabinet created by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya - Euroradio] was announced. How many months has it been?" Pavel Latushka, head of the NAM, asks. "No decisions have been made. We can meet again at the Congress, where again no decisions will be taken. Does it look good in the eyes of the Belarusians?"

We are open to dialogue and ready to help organize the Congress. We are open to working on all the documents and decisions. We do not criticize for the sake of criticizing or making hyping on the whole thing.

The question is, why are the voices of Tsapkala, Prakopyeu, and others heard now? Because they don't hear us inside. There is a rule of democracy: listen and hear. They listen to us, but they do not hear us.

For two years, we were making an appearance. You know my nature. I am for more concrete, clear, precise actions and steps. And we have tried more than once to convince the Office. Alas, we succeeded very little. So, it's just past that point.

"But this does not mean that I am making this criticism today to damage the image of the Office or Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya," Pavel Latushka continues. "But I just have to say publicly: we are for joint action. We are for working together. We are for the fact that when someone goes to an international meeting, several people should be there. How much stronger would we look at the meetings that Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya organizes? How strong would we look exactly in front of the Belarusian society [because] we all came out together?"

I understand that this is what Tsapkala, Prakopyeu and Latushka are talking about. Question: what is Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's answer to us? We do not want to build a system where one person convenes the Congress of 300-350 people by their own decision. And in fact, she decided who to invite and who not to invite. And this Congress will make decisions? Is this a democracy? I'm sorry, the line where I can't keep quiet has passed. After all, all previous internal attempts at persuasion have had no effect. 

"She had no program and still has no program"

And this is what the claims made on the stream by political scientist Dzmitry Balkunets sound like.

Атака демсил на Тихановскую и Офис: чем недовольны оппозиционные политики?

"The situation when a person is taken around in a golden cage and told that she [probably Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya - Euroradio] represents the entire Belarusian society is complete nonsense," says Dzmitry Balkunets. "I think that imposing one leader is a huge mistake that is happening now. I think that in this situation, we must recognize that we have no true leadership. In this situation, it seems to me, it is necessary to go the way of non-repetition of the leader cult that has already been formed in Belarus. We cannot get rid of a leader for 28 years".

It is necessary to admit that Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was a protest candidate. She did not have any program and does not have any program at all. She does not write any texts by herself. Some unclear team of people who surround her writes texts for her. Some obscure advisors order black lies in some obscure media and begin to slander various participants in the democratic movement.

Some people insult members of the democratic movement in public either personally or send dirty comments in public media. I am referring to the recent scandal that happened with Pavel Latushka, when he was openly insulted by one of the people [probably referring to Anton Matolka -Euroradio] who is connected and works in Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's office. This is a dirty story, and I think it is unacceptable in the democratic movement. 

Tsapkala asks to bring back the discussion tradition

Valery Tsapkala and Dzmitry Balkunets took part in the streaming event. He, too, spoke unflatteringly about the actions of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's office.

Атака демсил на Тихановскую и Офис: чем недовольны оппозиционные политики?
Valery Tsapkala / Euroradio

"We want to involve Belarusians in the decision-making process. We believe that secrecy is a detriment. Silence always leads to abuse. Silence always leads to inefficiency. And what have we seen from the three initiatives [in which Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's Office was involved -Euroradio], which did not lead to anything? They are the strike, the so-called talks with Lukashenka, and the tic-tac-toe ["Cross out the referendum" campaign - Euroradio].

But the important thing is that they [the initiatives] were presented as if on behalf of the democratic community of Belarus. They did not know and had no idea how they were being prepared and what the arguments "for" and "against" were. This is the root of all problems.

The Office we are talking about today copies the model [of the Belarusian regime] that it knows. It's just reversed. It's all there, including the media funding. It comes from there. And the distinctions like this is the Office, and this is the Cabinet. Just like he [Lukashenka] has it -- this is the Presidential Administration, and this is the Council of Ministers. The whole model is simply copied from the one that exists there.

For us, the main task is to bring back the traditions of discussing issues that were stolen from us in 1996, which, when we left and found ourselves in disarray, in exile, for some reason, we can't use, bring back.


"Did we elect Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya as a democratic leader?"

Singer Anzhalika Ahurbash, who is facing criminal punishment in Belarus from Aliaksandr Lukashenka's regime, also has questions for Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and her Office.

"I honestly don't understand: did we elect a democratic leader? Did we give her such authority? Then some people appeared in her entourage. Kavaleuski, Franak Viachorka -- we did not know who these people were, where they came from," says the singer indignantly. "Tell me: did we elect Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya as a democratic leader? Have we empowered her and her Office to represent the interests of Belarusians and Belarus?"

Атака демсил на Тихановскую и Офис: чем недовольны оппозиционные политики?
Valery Tsapkala, Dzmitry Balkunets, Anzhalika Ahurbash, Aleg Maiseyeu all criticize Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and her Office during the live stream / screenshot from Valery Tsapkala's YouTube channel

"The Office has been around for two years," Anzhalika continues. "We know nothing about it, we have no access to information. We've only seen the so-called political tourism during these two years. Those were the meetings we don't know about and discussed there. What are the results of these meetings? We know about huge sums of money allocated to support a democratic society, to repressed people, to help families, political prisoners and so on. But I've been watching the broadcasts now, and no one knows when the question "where is the money?" is asked. The Office can't answer that question either.

It makes me want to ask: what do you exist on? This endless pathos and these endless trips [probably by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya - Euroradio] cost a lot of money.

I'm not even talking about the unscrupulous horde of guards around Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Does she need this security? Do you know how much it costs? I'm a public person, and I know what security is.  

Make Tsikhanouskaya a "queen"

Restaurateur Vadzim Prakopyeu also does not see significant results from the Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's Office.

"We have been at war for four months, and I do not understand whether the main headquarters of the Belarusian opposition [probably, the office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya] has any plan," says Vadzim Prakopyeu during the "Forum of Democratic Forces" in Belarus. "I understand that Putin, Lukashenka and Zaluzhny [Commander-in-Chief of the AFU] have a plan. I don't understand if our leadership has a plan".

In the future, Vadzim Prakopyeu wants to give Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya exclusively representative functions and not deprive her of formal power. All this is to avoid losing contact with Western partners who, according to Prakopyeu, associate the Belarusian opposition mainly with Sviatlana.

He further proposes to send advisor Franak Vyachorka to Mongolia and to make a cheeky "Belarusian Churchill" as prime minister of the new Belarus, who will decide all state issues.

The "Conference of the new Belarus" promises to be large-scale. It is to be held in early August in Vilnius. The meeting will be attended by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, as well as representatives of the democratic forces of Belarus, who, as we can see, have a lot of pressing issues.

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