Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya shows a photograph as she speaks at Czech Senate in Prague, Czech Republic, June 9, 2021.
Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya shows a photograph as she speaks at Czech Senate in Prague, Czech Republic, June 9, 2021.

A Belarusian opposition leader has called for creation of an international tribunal to investigate war crimes allegedly committed by authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

The request was made Wednesday by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Lukashenko’s most powerful challenger in the Belarusian president election last year.

“We cannot allow dictators to write history,” Tsikhanouskaya said in remarks before the Czech Senate in Prague.

Tsikhanouskaya, who now resides in Lithuania, called for the establishment of the tribunal “to investigate the crimes of the Lukashenko dictatorship in the past and in the period following the 2020 election.”

Months of anti-government protests in Belarus were fueled by Lukashenko’s reelection to a sixth term in office last August that was widely perceived as rigged. 

Lukashenko’s government responded with a harsh crackdown that resulted in more than 35,000 arrests and thousands of police beatings.

The fierce clampdown was “a terror that our country has not experienced since the time of Stalinism,” Tsikhanouskaya said. “The only solution to the crisis in Belarus can be free elections.” 

The opposition leader urged European countries to stop buying Belarusian oil products and fertilizers and to stop cooperating with the country's banks and other institutions.

Belarus has become increasingly isolated since authorities scrambled a fighter jet and used a false bomb alert on May 23 to force an Irish passenger jet to land in Minsk and arrest dissident Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich.

Tsikhanouskaya was invited to Prague by Senate speaker Milos Vystrcil. The opposition leader also met with President Milos Zeman and Prime Minister Andrej Babis.