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Man-woman insider-outsider battle in Belarus

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MsAmerica · 20/01/2022 00:18

Much to my surprise, this turned out to be a really interesting (but long!) article, about the political battles in Belarus, where the stay-at-home mother unexpectedly stepped in to her husband's shoes when he was thrown in prison.

The Accidental Revolutionary Leading Belarus’s Uprising
How Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya came to challenge her country’s dictatorship.
By Dexter Filkins

Tsikhanouskaya was not a career politician; she was the daughter of a truck driver, a mother of two who had set aside a career as an English teacher in order to help her deaf son learn to speak. An improbable series of events had propelled her to challenge President Alexander Lukashenka, the last dictator in Europe, for the leadership of Belarus.

A few months before, Tsikhanouskaya’s husband, a journalist named Siarhei Tsikhanouski, had declared his own candidacy against Lukashenka, whom he had relentlessly derided as an incompetent autocrat, a “cockroach” who was despoiling the country. For years, Lukashenka had regularly staged Presidential elections, and each time claimed an easy victory. This time, though, there was a strong popular reaction, inspired in part by Siarhei’s reports. He was arrested and thrown into a “punishment cell,” a dank concrete box without a window. Hundreds of others had already been imprisoned for questioning the regime.

With Siarhei in jail, Tsikhanouskaya decided to run herself...

The men ... then led Tsikhanouskaya to a dark room and closed the door. “Your campaign is over,” Pavlyuchenko told her. They gave her a choice, she recalled. She could go to prison, leaving her son and daughter to be raised by others. Or she could leave the country immediately; a car was waiting.

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