Her name is Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, a former English teacher and housewife with no prior political experience who reluctantly entered the race for president to stand in for her jailed blogger husband, drawing huge crowds to her rallies.
But the august 9 elections didn’t produce the results she and her supporters had hoped for.
President Alexander Lukashenko, in power for more than a quarter of a century, claimed a landslide victory, in an election that saw independent observers either detained or barred from entering polling stations.
The ensuing protests saw to violent clashes between police and the protesters, leading the opposition to flee to Lithuania.
Once nicknamed the last European dictator by Washington, 65-year-old Lukashenko, has accused the opposition of trying to cause a bloodbath, and Russia of provoking violence.
The disputed elections have drawn criticism from the European Union. Germany has called for the reimposition of EU sanctions on the former soviet republic.
Foreign observers have not judged an election to be free and fair in the landlocked Eastern European country since 1995. But as long as Lukashenko has the backing of the military and high-ranking officials, experts say, he will remain in entrenched in power.