Vilnius has turned down Minsk’s request for the extradition of Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya who has been staying in Lithuania since August 2020, Belarusian Prosecutor General Andrei Shved said on Sunday.
"We issued and keep on issuing corresponding document [on the extradition of opposition activists]. So far, we see no reaction, but Tikhanovskaya," he said in an interview with the Belarus-1 television channel. "Indeed, we have received documents, I can official confirm it, about Lithuania’s refusal to extradite her."
According to the Belarusian prosecutor general, "no motives" for the refusal were provided. "We see no legal grounds for that," he noted.
He said that several Belarusian opposition activists, who face criminal charges in Belarus, are currently living in Lithuania. "We are taking all possible measures to ensure that these criminals are extradited to Belarus," he noted. "We have very good results of work in this area with our Russian colleagues and we are thankful to them for that. Such personas are extradited under law when there are legal grounds for that.
The Belarusian prosecutor general’s office said in March it had issued a request to Lithuania for the extradition of former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was wanted in Belarus "for the crimes against the governance system, public and state security." It said the extradition had been requested under the Belarusian-Lithuanian agreement on legal assistance and legal relations on civil, family and criminal cases.
Nationwide demonstrations engulfed Belarus following the August 9 presidential election. According to the Central Election Commission’s official results, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10% of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, came in second, with 10.12% of the ballot. However, she refused to recognize the election’s outcome, and left Belarus for Lithuania.
Tikhanovskaya’s supporters set up a Coordination Council that set a task of power transition by means of new elections. The prosecutor general’s office opened a criminal case following its establishment on charges of public calls for the seizure of state power and the infringement on the country’s national security. Later, another criminal case was initiated against the Council’s presidium members on charges of establishing an extremist organization seeking to seize state power.
In March 2021, the Belarusian prosecutor general’s office opened a criminal case against Tikhanovskaya and members of the so-called BYPOL opposition initiative on chares of plotting an act of terror by an organize group. The country’s State Security Committee (KGB) put Tikhanovskaya and several other opposition activists on a list of persons involved in terrorism and issued requests for their extradition to Lithuania, Poland, and Latvia.