Fact Check: Belarus Opposition Leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya Did NOT Admit She Was Ex-Drug Addict, Never Promised To Legalize Drugs


  • Автор: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Belarus Opposition Leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya Did NOT Admit She Was Ex-Drug Addict, Never Promised To Legalize Drugs Denied

Did Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the exiled Belarusian opposition leader, admit that she was a former drug addict? Did she, during her election campaign, promise to legalize drugs and conduct drug tastings if she came to power? No, that's not true: Tikhanovskaya's press service told Lead Stories she has never had problems with drugs and never said she used them. The claim originated from a satirical website that states "All texts on this site are grotesque parodies of reality and are not real news."

These claims appeared in a video on February 8, 2024, posted on the official YouTube channel of Belarus state TV channel Belarus 1. The claims were made by the Belarusian singing duet, the Gruzdev sisters at the 14:13 mark.

In the video, one of the sisters, Alexandra, says (translated from Russian to English by Lead Stories staff):

When we found out that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is an ex-drug addict, she admitted it. And did you know that in her election campaign, she promised that when she came to power, she would legalize marijuana and drugs.

Her twin sister Valentina adds:

And she will explain to people how to enter and exit it properly.

Alexandra: She will organize tasting.

Valentina: Tasting ... I want to ask, starting from kindergarten? From school?

Alexandra: She will be showing... Did you say that she calls for good and bright things? This is what offers ...

Valentina: Svetlana Tikhanovskaya ...

This is how the video appeared on YouTube at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-02-27 at 11.03.55.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Feb 27 11:52:23 2024 UTC)

Lead Stories found the claims were made on the show "Speak, Don't Be Silent" on February 8, 2024. However, the two women provided no evidence to support their assertions.

On February 22, 2024, Tikhanovskaya's press secretary, Anna Krasulina, told Lead Stories by email:

Sviatlana Tsihanouskaya never had problems with drugs, she never said that she used drugs.

Lead Stories found that the claims were published (archived here) in the satirical magazine Panorama on December 6, 2020. They wrote that Tikhanovskaya allegedly said the following in an interview with the Dutch media outlet De Telegraaf:

I know that the older generation of Belarusians has a certain prejudice towards marijuana. In reality, tobacco causes more harm than it does. I have tried marijuana myself, and I know that in the EU, which Belarus aspires to, marijuana is legal, and drug addiction rates are significantly lower than ours and in Russia. At the same time, young people like to smoke and relax, and as a result, they end up being targeted by the police. For marijuana. In the twenty-first century. Unthinkable. If we talk about the older generation, we will conduct advocacy, talk about the benefits of light drugs, and provide an opportunity for free tasting.

The Panorama is a satirical website, with the caption beneath its logo explicitly indicating the satirical nature of its content. Furthermore, it has a note under every article, including the one above, that states (as translated): "All texts on this site are grotesque parodies of reality and are not real news."

Additionally, Lead Stories found (archived here) no evidence (archived here) to support the claims on Tikhanovskaya's official website or social media accounts. A search for the phrase "Tikhanovskaya admitted that she was a former drug addict" (archived here) or "Tikhanovskaya promised to legalize drugs and to conduct drug tastings if she came to power" (archived here) conducted on February 27, 2024, using Google News' index of credible news sites, did not yield any evidence-based reports on these claims. If it were the case, it would be the news of significant importance reported in international media.

Additionally, Lead Stories found (archived here) no such interview on De Telegraaf's official website. Lead Stories has contacted De Telegraaf for comment and will update this article if a response is received.

In 2020, Tikhanovskaya took on the role of 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 winner. However, she was forced out of the country with her children. In December 2021, her husband was sentenced to 18 years in prison on various charges, including orchestrating 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 president of Belarus since 1994, resisted months of protests that followed the presidential election, which was widely thought to have been rigged. In response, he carried out mass arrests and imprisoned 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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