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Belarusian opposition politician calls for more strikes to force new elections

Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya speaks in a video message in an unknown location in Lithuania, in this still image taken from handout video released August 19, 2020. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya Headquarters/Handout via REUTERS/Files

MINSK (Reuters) - Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Friday called on her supporters to step up their strikes at factories across the country to try to force new presidential elections.

“I ask you - continue and expand strikes,” she said in a video address. “Don’t be fooled by intimidation.”

Belarus is facing its biggest political crisis since the breakup of the Soviet Union, with tens of thousands of demonstrators saying veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko’s alleged Aug. 9 re-election was rigged and is illegitimate.

Lukashenko has said there will be no new presidential election despite calls from the opposition and nationwide anti-government protests and strikes.

Reporting by Andrey Makhovsky in Minsk and Olzhas Auyezov in Almaty; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Osborn