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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Belarusian opposition leader Sichanovskaya urges US to impose sanctions

Belarus’s opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanovskaya on Tuesday pushed for the United States to apply pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko’s government, including the use of sanctions.

“Sanctions are not a silver bullet, but they can help make representatives of the regime ready to stop violence in Belarus and start dialogue with civil society,” Sikhanovskaya told VOA.

He spoke outside the White House after talks with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, one of a series of meetings this week with officials from the Biden administration and US Congress.

“I asked America to be the guarantors of our freedom, that they will stand up for our freedom if it is in danger. Because our freedom is the highest value for Belarusians,” Tsikhanovskaya told VOA.

She said she said the United States provides more support for civil society groups in Belarus, and it is up to democratic countries to “support those who are fighting right now.”

Tsikhanovskaya was Lukashenko’s main challenger in the August 2020 election which was considered rigged by the opposition and several Western governments. Lukashenko denied the allegation. She fled the country after the election as Lukashenko’s government cracked down on the protests.

“The United States, along with partners and allies, will continue to hold the Lukashenka regime accountable for its actions, including imposing sanctions,” US National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horn said in a statement about Tuesday’s meeting. “

State Department spokesman Ned Price, speaking to reporters at a briefing on Tuesday, said sanctions are “a powerful tool” and the United States supports the aspirations of the people of Belarus “for a democratic, free and prosperous future.”

“We remain committed to closely coordinating with like-minded allies and partners on next steps, as we demonstrate our response to the abusive actions of the Lukashenko regime in recent weeks,” Price said. “We support international efforts to independently look into Belarus’ flawed election, its human rights abuses around the election, and the subsequent action.”

Mykhailo Komadovsky of the VOA Russian Service contributed to the report.

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