Fact Check: Belarus Opposition Leader Did NOT Tweet A Call For Sabotage To Prevent Nuclear Weapons Deployment In Belarus


  • Автор: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Belarus Opposition Leader Did NOT Tweet A Call For Sabotage To Prevent Nuclear Weapons Deployment In Belarus Fake Tweet

Did the exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya, in a tweet, call on Belarusians to engage in sabotage to prevent the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus? Is she also developing a secret plan for their elimination while demanding assistance from peaceful Belarusians? No, that's not true: In correspondence with Lead Stories, Tikhanovskaya's press service has confirmed that the original tweet from Tikhanovskaya differed from the one disseminated. Lead Stories found no credible evidence that Tikhanovskaya has such a plan.

On May 26, 2023, the claim appeared in a video posted on the TikTok account @sotnik_tiktok (archived here).

The graphic on the video, in Russian, says:

Tikhanovskaya calls on Belarusians to engage in sabotage to prevent the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, the "cook" is developing a secret plan for their elimination, demanding the help of peaceful Belarusians! In the event of a disaster, she plans to blame the President of Belarus. And attract global attention.

(The text has been translated into English from Russian by Lead Stories staff).

Note: Some opponents of Tikhanovskaya, a former teacher and a mother of two, ironically refer to her as a "cook" or a "housewife" because, for a period of time before starting her political career, she was a stay-at-home mother.

As evidence, the video's author cites an alleged post by Tikhanovskaya from her official Twitter page.

Below is how the post appeared on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-06-27 at 11.21.39.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Jun 27 08:38:57 2023 UTC)

On June 22, 2023, in correspondence with Lead Stories, Press Secretary of Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya, Anna Krasulina, wrote:
The original tweet is here:

On May 25, 2023, Tikhanovskaya tweeted that we must do everything to prevent Putin's plan to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus. However, contrary to the tweet in the video, she did not say, "It's time to be decisive because this is the only effective way to solve this problem."

Lead Stories found no indication on Tikhanovskaya's Twitter page, official website, or social media accounts that she has urged Belarusians to engage in sabotage to prevent the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. Additionally, there is no evidence to suggest that she claims to be developing a secret plan to eliminate such weapons while demanding assistance from peaceful Belarusians. A search for the phrases "Tikhanovskaya tweet sabotage tactical nuclear weapons Belarus" or "Tikhanovskaya secret plan eliminate nuclear weapons Belarus" using Google News' index of thousands of credible news sites did not reveal any factual reports.

On May 25, 2023, Russia claimed to have proceeded with its plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu emphasized that Moscow is not handing over its nuclear weapons to Belarus and will retain control over them and any decisions regarding their use. Following authoritarian Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko's announcement that the warheads were already in transit, the news gained global attention, triggering a surge of rumors and misinformation. On June 14, 2023, BBC reported that Tikhanovskaya warned of the danger of transferring nuclear weapons from Russia into "the hands of a crazy dictator."

There are nine countries in the world officially recognized as nuclear powers: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. Belarus is not among these nations. According to nuclear policy expert Maxim Starchak, Belarus will not become a nuclear power since the overall quantity of nuclear weapons in the world will not increase, and the weapons will simply be relocated from Russia to Belarus. Starchak argues that if the tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Belarus remain under full control of Russia, it will not constitute a formal violation of the nonproliferation regime.
In 2020, Tikhanovskaya took on the role of an opposition candidate following the detention of her husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, a former blogger and presidential candidate who rallied mass protests against Lukashenko. She participated in the 2020 presidential elections in Belarus and is widely believed to have emerged as the victor. However, she was forced out of the country with her children. In December 2021, Tikhanovsky was sentenced to 18 years in prison on various charges, including the organization of riots. Tikhanovskaya told the BBC that her husband's sentence was a result of Lukashenko's "personal revenge." In March 2023, a Belarus court sentenced Tikhanovskaya to 15 years in jail in absentia. The charges levied against her included high treason and conspiracy to seize power.

In 2020 Lukashenko, who has been the ruler of Belarus since 1994, stubbornly resisted months of protests that followed the presidential election, which was widely thought to be rigged. In response, he has carried out mass arrests and imprisonment of numerous opposition politicians and activists.

  Lead Stories Staff

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.

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