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“We Have Evidence Lukashenka’s Regime Participated in Abducting Ukrainian Kids,” Belarus Opposition Leader Tells VoteWatch



Belarus Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has told VoteWatch that there is evidence proving that the regime of Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko took part in the abduction of Ukrainian children, including orphans, and has called for him to be brought to justice. 

Following what Human Rights Watch referred to as the “political arrest” of her husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya decided to run in the 2020 presidential election in Belarus. Since then, she has earned international respect and received no less than two nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The outspoken politician opted to run in lieu of her husband who – in an attack against democracy – had been disqualified from running, and despite severe threats from the government and the sexist assertion made by Lukashenko that Belarus wasn’t ready for a female leader.

Undeterred, Tsikhanouskaya pressed on with her campaign, gaining support from a nation tired of oppression – yet had the election stolen from her by Lukashenko’s regime via a campaign of intimidation and electoral fraud.

“Lukashenka must be brought to the tribunal to be held accountable for his crimes against the people of Belarus and Ukraine,” she told VoteWatch. “He has been in power for almost 30 years in Belarus and the list of his crimes is enormous. Now it also includes his complicity in crimes against Ukraine.


Russia has abducted and trafficked thousands of Ukrainian children during its ongoing brutal invasion, with some being sent to Belarus.

“We have evidence that the regime of Lukashenka participated in the abduction of Ukrainian kids. Ukrainian orphans were deported from occupied territories to Belarus.

“Our count is that at least 2000 were brought to Belarus. They were placed in different facilities and sanatoriums, including ones connected to potash-producer Belaruskali.

Tsikhanouskaya isn’t the only person making such shocking claims.

“We are seeing how children from Ukraine are brought to Belarus and Russia with the support of [Belarusian strongman Alexander] Lukashenko,” Belarusian opposition politician Pavel Latushko told DW.

Due to threats from Lukashenko, Latushko now lives Polish exile. In March of this year, a court in Belarus sentenced him to 18 years in prison in absentia.

According to the EU and the Ukrainian president’s commissioner for children’s rights, Daria Herasymchuk, more than 16,000 children are believed to have been deported so far from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, some of them from orphanages. In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) had issued arrest warrants against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, for the alleged abduction of Ukrainian children.


Bringing Ukrainian minors to Belarus also violates the 1949 Geneva Convention, says Latushko, who stressed that Belarus allowed Russia to attack neighboring Ukraine from its territory, which is why he says it cannot be considered a “neutral state.” These developments prompted Latushko to collect evidence that he intends to submit to the prosecutor general of Ukraine and the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Belarusian state media and other propaganda channels have confirmed the presence of Ukrainian children in the country.

Putin and Lukashenko have long held a close political and personal relationship.

“The propagandists say the children are brought to Belarus to recover. But is it possible a six-year-old child will independently decide to leave his or her country, Ukraine? No, it is not,” Latushko said. “It would be different if families left voluntarily or if there was permission from the Ukrainian authorities. But this is not the case.”

Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says it’s investigating the forced transfer of Ukrainian children to Belarus, adding to allegations that Russia is also transferring them to its territory.

Ukrainian law enforcement officers said they are investigating the relocations from the Russian-occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Kharkiv regions to Belarus.

Belarusian opposition leaders say more than 2,150 Ukrainian children, including orphans aged 6 to 15, were sent to so-called health camps and sanatoriums in Belarus.


Some children, who were forcibly sent to Russia, have since been returned following tense negotiations. However, many remain in Russia and in Belarus, facing indoctrination, abuse, and even in some cases sexual trafficking.

“We ask International Criminal Court to launch the proceeding, and issue the arrest warrant on Lukashenka like it was done with Putin,” Tsikhanouskaya told VoteWatch. “We also ask the EU to consider sanctions against Lukashenka’s regime now for abduction of kids, for crimes against humanity, for complicity in war.”

Tsikhanouskaya, essentially Belarus’ ‘President-elect’ in exile, made the comments whilst addressing recent rumours about Lukashenko’s health.

Following a closed-door meeting with Vladimir Putin last month, the self-proclaimed president of Belarus was rushed to a Moscow hospital, allegedly in a ‘critical condition’.

While wild speculation began mounting on social media, opposition figure Valery Tsepkalo, along with a number of influential yet unreliable social media commentators, circulated a conspiracy theory that Lukashenko had been poisoned.


“I think everyone can see that Lukashenka is not healthy,” Tsikhanouskaya said. “We see how he looks, how he speaks. What is his diagnosis — we don’t know; but it’s clear he’s getting weaker and weaker.

Tsikhanouskaya has received support from leaders across the free world.

“After six days of disappearance, he came back. To be honest, I am more worried about the health of political prisoners than I am about the dictator. Many political prisoners have disappeared for months – we don’t know where they are or under which condition. And unlike the dictator, they are not provided with proper medical care. They deserve our attention, not the dictator.”

“The situation with the health of Lukashenko galvanized the discussion in society about what comes after him. When something happens to the dictator, it creates a lot of risks, but also a lot of opportunities for us. If he disappears, dies, or leaves the country, we will have the window of opportunity to turn Belarus to democracy and get it out of Russian influence.

“Some groups inside the regime will be interested in taking power. The current constitution doesn’t give a clear answer what will happen when Lukashenka is out of the office. So it would be decided in negotiations, and we, as democratic forces, we have to be prepared for these negotiations.

“I am ready to talk to everyone who sees Belarus as democratic and independent country. Russia will be interested to put in its own loyalist. But the last word must be from Belarusians. We should talk to all groups within the regime, to discuss the transition and new elections. We must make sure that all political prisoners are immediately released. We must make sure the international community acts quickly to prevent Russia from interfering.

“We will have the right to ask for international peacekeepers if the situation deteriorates, to make sure new free and fair elections take place.”


On Belarus’ relationship with Russia under the Lukashenko regime, she said:

“Belarus is fully dependent on Russia now. Russia was building its control over Belarus through decades. This dependence led to Belarus’ isolation, and put in danger our nation and the every existence of our country. We are offering a European alternative of freedom and democracy. We should leave the Belarus-Russia Union State, the CSTO, and all the deals with Russia that undermine our sovereignty.

“Belarus historically belonged to the European family, and we should bring it back to where it truly belongs.”


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