Svetlana Tikhanovskaya
© Sputnik / Viktor Tolocko
America's state-run media giant has reportedly been asked by exiled opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to expand its operations in Belarus as part of a renewed effort to oust the Eastern European country's embattled leader.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the activist, who fled abroad after last summer's disputed presidential elections, said that she had "a fruitful meeting with the US Agency for Global Media's CEO, Kelu Chao." Chao oversees state-run media brands including Voice of America and RFERL.

Tikhanovskaya thanked those organizations for supportive coverage of the opposition in Belarus, and called upon them to "help repressed media in Belarus." In addition, she asked Chao to commit to re-launching Voice of America's service in the country.


Comment: Lukashenko is smartly trying to eliminate the presence of Western propaganda in Belarus. Tikhanovskaya can moan about "repressed media," but if that media is there to disrupt the elected government, it's hard to blame him for taking action. Every country would do the same.


On Wednesday, Belarus' embattled leader Alexander Lukashenko used an interview with Sky News Arabic to criticize "crazy" EU politicians leading the charge against his government with sanctions. According to him, the West is "directing a hybrid war against us, Russia and even China." He added that this purported policy "isn't just creating a hotbed of tension - they are pushing for a third world war."

In May, representatives of the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) were convinced by a notorious pair of Russian pranksters to reveal the full extent of their organization's role in the protest movement that has rocked the country in recent months. Nina Ognianova, the head of the NED's work with local groups in Belarus, told YouTube stars Vovan and Lexus that the American funding body had been providing support to "community organizing" networks and said it had played a role in the protest movement.


Belarus has been rocked by protests since veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko declared victory in a presidential election last August. The opposition, and many international observers, say the results were rigged in his favor, and tens of thousands took to the streets to demand a fresh poll. Tikhanovskaya, who insists she won the popular vote, has been based in neighboring Lithuania since then, as police launched a crackdown on demonstrators and opposition members.