Chief of defense staff and Belarus opposition leader attend Ottawa conference

OTTAWA — Gen. Wayne Eyre, chief of the defense staff, will speak today at an international defense conference in Ottawa that Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Belarus’s exiled opposition leader, will also address.

Tsikhanouskaya claimed a first-round victory over Alexander Lukashenko in the 2020 Belarusian presidential election after she stood in the place of her husband, who had been detained.

She disputed the eventual election of Lukashenko, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has allowed Belarus to be a staging post for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, letting Russian troops amass along the border.

The Ottawa Conference is to be attended by defense figures from Canada and key allies, including the United Kingdom’s vice-chief of the defense staff, Admiral Tim Fraser.

The conference will look at the current state of international security, including in Ukraine.

Defense Minister Anita Anand will attend the conference on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2022.

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