Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the undoubted winner of the Belarus presidential election on August 9, has been put on a wanted list by Russia on unspecified charges.

On Wednesday the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that Putin has no plans to meet Ms Tikhanovskaya. Instead, he is backing the 26-year incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko.

“No contacts are being planned,” he said. “Madame Tikhanovskaya is not in Belarus.” Given the circumstances, Peskov’s further remark was one of the most jaw-dropping in a long career of laying false trails: “One can hardly say that she is somehow involved in Belarus’s life.”

MrsTikhanovskaya was forced to leave Belarus within days after the poll after being threatened with reprisals. She fled to Lithuania and has since had meetings with several European leaders.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya visits French President Macron in Vilnius on September 29