Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya had earlier said she was ready to lead Belarus and called for the creation of a legal mechanism to ensure that a new fair presidential election could be held.

A man holds a t-shirt with a portrait of Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya as he protests against presidential election results in front of the Interior Ministry headquarters in Minsk, Belarus August 19, 2020.
A man holds a t-shirt with a portrait of Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya as he protests against presidential election results in front of the Interior Ministry headquarters in Minsk, Belarus August 19, 2020. (Reuters)

Belarusian politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has said she will not run for the presidency if Belarus holds new elections.

"I'm not planning to run myself," Tsikhanouskaya said, when asked if she or her husband, a well-known video blogger who was jailed in May, will run for the presidency if new elections are held, Russian state news agency TASS reported on Friday.

Earlier this week, Tsikhanouskaya said she was ready to lead Belarus and called for the creation of a legal mechanism to ensure that a new fair presidential election could be held.

READ MORE: Belarus opposition chief appeals for more strikes to force new election

US diplomat to visit Russia, Lithuania

The number two US diplomat will visit Russia and Lithuania soon for talks on Belarus, Reuters, citing two sources familiar with the matter, said on Friday, as Washington seeks a peaceful resolution to that country's election crisis that averts Russian intervention.

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun's planned mission signals a greater US role in trying to settle the strife that erupted when Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko brutally cracked down on peaceful protesters rejecting his claim of a landslide August 9 election win.

Asked about Biegun's planned trip, a State Department spokesman said "there is no travel to announce at this time."

One source, a former senior US official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Biegun was expected to leave in the coming days for Moscow and the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, where Belarusian opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya took refuge after Lukashenko launched his crackdown.

The United States and European Union have condemned the election as marred by irregularities.

READ MORE: Belarus leader warns of tough new steps against protesters

Calls for talks with opposition

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday urged Lukashenko to accept international help in opening talks with the opposition and implicitly warned Russia, Belarus' massive neighbour, not to intervene.

Lukashenko has appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin for help salvaging his 26-year rule. Belarus is bound to Russia by a mutual defence treaty and deep economic, political and cultural ties.

Putin has offered assistance if required. Moscow on Wednesday said it saw no need to help for now, but has warned against outside involvement in Belarus and said the crisis should be settled internally.

Larger US role

The second source said he did not know Biegun's planned message but thought he would aim to prevent further violence in Belarus or Russian intervention.

"I would guess the administration is trying to dissuade Moscow from either intervening on its own or using its influence with Lukashenko to encourage him to have a (more) violent crackdown," said this source, also on condition of anonymity.

EU member Lithuania, which has sought backing from Washington, has been an outspoken critic of Lukashenko's crackdown on the demonstrations by tens of thousands of Belarusians in which his security forces have beaten, teargassed and arrested thousands of people, many of whom say they were tortured.

Experts say Washington seeks a larger role in a search for a negotiated resolution to the crisis. The turmoil disrupted a US effort to exploit tensions between Putin and Lukashenko, with Pompeo visiting Minsk in February for talks on normalizing diplomatic relations.

READ MORE: Belarus opens probe against new opposition council

Source: TRTWorld and agencies