The democratic movement in Belarus has shown remarkable resolve and garnered international admiration after standing against authoritarianism for months on end. Bolstered in response to Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s inept coronavirus pandemic response and the arrests of numerous opposition candidates, the movement grew rapidly following rigged elections on August 9, 2020. Lukashenka declared himself the winner and launched a months-long terror campaign against peaceful demonstrators, hoping to eventually exhaust the opposition movement.
At the forefront of the democratic opposition movement in Belarus is Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, whose husband was arrested during the pre-election crackdown and who has since been widely recognized by the international community as the real winner of the August poll. Tsikhanouskaya has fought for self-determination, human rights, and freedom in Belarus, and is the recipient of the European Union’s Sakharov Prize, the bloc’s top human rights award. She continues to lead the Coordination Council for the Transfer of Power, which is recognized by EU lawmakers as the legitimate representative of the Belarusian people.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the democratic opposition in Belarus, joined live from the Atlantic Council to discuss the future of Belarus, the state of the democratic movement, and the work the Coordination Council is doing to shore up support for a free and democratic Belarus. This event comes during a week-long visit to Washington where Tsikhanouskaya meets US government officials, members of Congress, and foreign ambassadors to the United States. What can officials in the United States do to support the democratic movement in Belarus in the face of continuing repression and state terror from Lukashenka’s regime?
Amna Nawaz, chief correspondent at PBS NewsHour, moderated. The Honorable Julie Fisher, US ambassador to Belarus, offered remarks, and the Atlantic Council’s Melinda Haring, deputy director of the Eurasia Center, welcomed.
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Leader of the democratic opposition in Belarus
The Honorable Julie Fisher
US Ambassador to Belarus
Belarus’ August 2020 presidential election saw widespread protests and serious fraud allegations as President Lukashenka claimed victory against popular opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Following a brutal crackdown against protestors by security forces, will Belarus begin its transition to democracy, or will Belarusians face further repression as Lukashenka’s rule falters?
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The Eurasia Center’s mission is to enhance transatlantic cooperation in promoting stability, democratic values and prosperity in Eurasia, from Eastern Europe and Turkey in the West to the Caucasus, Russia and Central Asia in the East.