Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya and French President Emmanuel Macron discuss free and fair elections for Belarus after the contested August 9 polls in which President Alexander Lukashenko won a sixth term.

Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya arrives for her meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Vilnius, Lithuania, September 29, 2020.
Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya arrives for her meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Vilnius, Lithuania, September 29, 2020. (Reuters)

Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya is pushing for the EU to help her country hold fresh presidential elections for this year.

Free and fair elections in Belarus in 2020 were the main topic of discussion between Tikhanovskaya and French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting in Lithuania on Tuesday, her press office said.

Tikhanovskaya said Macron also promised to help negotiate with Belarus authorities to secure the release of the political prisoners.

“He promised us to do everything to help with negotiations,(during) this political crisis in our country ... and he will do everything to help to release all the political prisoners,” She told reporters after the meeting in Vilnius on Tuesday.

A member of Tikhanovskaya's team said she told Macron that she needed his and the EU's help to get free and fair presidential elections in Belarus this year.

"The main topic for the conversation was how to organise new Belarus president elections and possible mediation of other countries, including France," read a statement issued by her press officer on Tuesday morning.

Belarus has been gripped by mass protests since the disputed August 9 presidential election in which President Alexander Lukashenko won a sixth term over Tikhanovskaya.

Lukashenko's opponents say it was a blatantly rigged election which drew international condemnation and civil unrest.

READ MORE: Belarus activists flee to Lithuania for refuge

Secret inauguration

Lukashenko last week assumed his sixth term of office during an inauguration ceremony that officials did not announce in advance. 

After weeks of mass protests against the leader's reelection, Lukashenko, 66, took the presidential oath.

With his right hand on the country's constitution, the head of the country's central election commission handed him the official ID card of the president of Belarus.

The ceremony sparked more protests and condemnation from the EU, the US and Britain.

The leader has been at the helm of the country for 26 years.

READ MORE: Lukashenko sworn in as Belarus president at 'secret' ceremony

'Sveta is our president'  

On Sunday, tens of thousands of Belarusians marched for a seventh straight weekend to demand Lukashenko to quit.

Protesters on Sunday chanted "impostor" and "Sveta is our president" as they marched through Minsk and other cities decked out in red-and-white opposition colours.

Police detained "around 200" people during rallies, an Interior Ministry spokesperson Olga Chemodanova said.

Some dubbed the protest a "people's inauguration" of Tikhanovskaya. 

READ MORE: Police detain hundreds as Belarusians hold 'people's inauguration' march

Tikhanovskaya flees 

Tikhanovskaya and around two dozen pro-democracy Belarusians had last month sought refuge in neighbouring Lithuania, fearing persecution.

Tikhanovskaya, a former teacher and political novice, said it was her own choice to leave the country but has hinted several times at the pressure she and her family faced.

Poland also announced an easing of entry restrictions to let in fleeing Belarusians, as well as offering to treat anyone injured in the recent violent crackdown on mass protests.

READ MORE: Belarus opposition head says she's ready to lead the nation

Source: TRTWorld and agencies