More than 10 political prisoners were amnestied and pardoned, among them Ryhor Kastusiou

Apr 11, 2024

On July 2, Aliaksandr Lukashenka signed the Law On Amnesty in Connection with the 80th Anniversary of the Liberation of Belarus from Nazi Invaders. It, like previous similar laws, does not grant amnesty for persons "involved in extremist and terrorist activities." Nevertheless, several political prisoners were released. 

As of July 5, Viasna human rights defenders know for certain about 17 political prisoners who were amnestied on July 3. Among them are three women and 14 men, including Ryhor Kastusiou, a cancer patient who was sentenced to 10 years in a penal colony. According to the information of Viasna, some of the political prisoners were pardoned, not amnestied.

 Human rights defenders do not publish the names of other released prisoners for their safety. 

The fact that political prisoner Ryhor Kastusiou was amnestied was confirmed to human rights defenders by relatives of the political prisoner. 67-year-old chairman of the BPF Party Ryhor Kastusiou was held behind bars for more than three years. He was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. In imprisonment, Ryhor's health problems worsened: he was diagnosed with cancer.

Information about other released persons is being checked and clarified.

Source: Human Rights Center "Viasna" 

Sports Representatives of the Lukashenko Regime Denied Entry to Olympic Games

Jul 01, 2024

Throughout 2023, the National Anti-Crisis Management team meticulously compiled dossiers on 179 Belarusian athletes affiliated with military or security forces operating under the Lukashenko regime. These dossiers were then submitted to international partners. As a result of this effort, it has been confirmed that several of these athletes have been deemed ineligible to compete in the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

In December 2023, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Committee established stringent eligibility criteria for the participation of Belarusian athletes in the 2024 Paris Games. Subsequently, in March 2024, the IOC Executive Board formed the Athlete Individual Eligibility Review Panel (AINERP).

The AINERP is responsible for verifying the eligibility of athletes holding Russian or Belarusian passports to participate in the 2024 Olympic Games, based on the decisions made by the IOC Executive Board and established principles. This verification process involves drawing upon information from various sources, including official lists of athletes associated with military and security forces in Belarus.

In accordance with the established verification rules, not all athletes under review were deemed eligible or invited to participate in the Paris Olympics. The National Anti-Crisis Management played a crucial role in providing information about Belarusian athletes with ties to military structures. This information included details about prominent figures such as Irina Kurochkina and Vanessa Kolodinskaya, both leaders within the wrestling team.

The list of eligible athletes will be subject to updates based on ongoing AINERP decisions.

"The formation of a dedicated group to assess athletes' compliance with IOC criteria, along with the denial of entry to Belarusian athletes linked to military structures, represents a significant step towards safeguarding the integrity of sport and protecting it from political manipulation," said Pavel Latushka, Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet and Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management. "The unwavering commitment of free athletes to upholding Olympic values must not be in vain."

Source: NAM

“Belarus receives revived attention”: Franak Viacorka and Dzianis Kuchynski participated in conference on Ukraine and Belarus in EU

Jul 01, 2024

Chief Advisor to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Franak Viacorka, and Diplomatic Advisor, Dzianis Kuchynski, participated in the conference “The EU Integration Prospects for Ukraine and Belarus: Assessing the future”. The event was held in London and featured officials, politicians, experts, and representatives of the EU and its member states’ special envoys for Belarus.

The Belarusian section focused on Belarusians’ readiness for a European choice and a European future. Additionally, discussions addressed what the EU and European bodies can do to support Belarus on its path to European integration.

Franak Viacorka notes that the Belarusian issue is returning to the agenda.

“In London, the issue of Belarus is rarely discussed, so the conference and its level show that interest is returning. In a week, an election will take place in the UK, and it is crucial that the new government keeps Belarus on the agenda and has a developed strategy vis-a-vis Belarus. Perhaps the points discussed at today’s conference will be included in this strategy. Today’s discussion on Ukraine and Belarus has proven to be very timely”, comments the advisor.

The full comment on the conference is available in Belarusian in video.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine on the territory of Belarus

Jun 29, 2024

On June 28th, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the release of Ukrainian citizens, some previously recognized as political prisoners, from detention under the Lukashenko regime. 

NAM expert opinion on the matter

Although Belarus committed an act of aggression against Ukraine by allowing its territory to be used as a staging ground for the Russian invasion, it is not legally considered a party to the armed conflict. Article 2 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 outlines the conditions for recognizing a state as a party to an armed conflict, and Belarus does not meet these criteria.

Assuming the exchange adhered to the rules of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, the parties involved were Russia and Ukraine, the two countries engaged in an international armed conflict. Therefore, the civilians returned to Ukraine, despite being detained in Belarus, were de jure handed over to Russia and treated as internees under Articles 41, 42, 43, 68, and 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Ukraine and Russia have established procedures for exchanging prisoners of war and interned civilians. This instance falls under that existing framework, with Belarus remaining legally outside the process.

However, this situation, along with other instances of direct military activity, provides further evidence that the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine has extended into Belarusian territory. Therefore, while Belarus may not be a party to the conflict, it is accurate to state that the conflict is taking place on Belarusian soil between Ukraine and Russia.

Source: NAM

OSCE as the Main Platform for Initiatives on Accountability of the Lukashenko Regime

Jun 28, 2024

Restoring the rights of victims of serious international crimes in Belarus was the central focus of meetings held by Pavel Latushka, Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus and Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management (NAM), with permanent representatives of democratic countries to the OSCE on June 27-28, 2024, in Vienna.

Mr. Latushka and NAM lawyers met with representatives from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Canada, the USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, the EU, and Liechtenstein. During these meetings, they presented their position on the potential of underutilized OSCE mechanisms in addressing the situation in Belarus, emphasizing their importance in restoring the rights of victims. The nature of the discussions suggests that partner actions in this direction are forthcoming.

At the request of the OSCE permanent representatives, Mr. Latushka provided updates on the Lukashenko regime's continued support for Russia's war against Ukraine and the regime's escalation of the migration crisis on the border with the European Union.

The illegal movement of civilians from Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine to Belarus was also a point of concern. Several permanent representatives from European countries highlighted the advisability of establishing a unified platform within the OSCE, potentially through a "friends of democratic Belarus" group, to coordinate all initiatives related to accountability in the Belarusian context.

Pavel Latushka also briefed his partners on the concerning situation of Andrei Gnyot, a Belarusian activist and film director, and the risks associated with his potential extradition from Serbia to Belarus. Key partner countries are closely monitoring the situation, indicating a commitment to providing the necessary diplomatic and legal support.

Furthermore, at the request of the permanent representatives, Pavel Latushka shared information about the results of the Coordination Council elections and ongoing efforts to strengthen Belarusian democratic institutions.

Source: NAM

Appeal from the People's Embassies of Belarus to Belarusian Diplomats   

Jun 28, 2024

Appeal from the People's Embassies of Belarus to Belarusian Diplomats

Following the unexpected passing of former Belarusian Ambassador to Germany, Denis Sidarenka, the People's Embassies of Belarus extend their condolences to his family and loved ones. In light of this event, we appeal to the diplomats who continue to serve the current Lukashenko regime.

We urge you to critically reassess your position and join the democratic forces working to restore rights and freedoms in Belarus. The regime you support has consistently shown a willingness to betray and eliminate not only its opponents but also those loyal to it, once they become redundant or inconvenient.

Choosing democracy is a step towards ensuring your own safety and striving for a better future for our country.

The People's Embassies of Belarus stand ready to offer support and assistance to those who take this courageous step or wish to establish contact while remaining in their current positions. 

Contact for communication: 

Source: People's Embassies of Belarus

Coordination Council on the Agenda of the "Belarus-EU" Consultative Group

Jun 26, 2024

"The third convocation of the Coordination Council commenced its work on June 12th. We are currently developing a revised set of regulations to ensure the Council operates with maximum efficiency, both now and in the future. We plan to hold our first open general meeting in the coming days, during which the leadership will be elected," stated Angelika Melnikova, Coordination Council delegate and member of the " Latushka’s Team and Movement 'For Freedom'" coalition, during her participation in the third meeting of the III EU Consultative Group with Belarusian democratic forces. Melnikova's address focused on the results of the Coordination Council elections and the current state of affairs within the organization.

While the general political strategy of the Coordination Council will be determined through consensus among its members, several key areas of activity are already emerging:

Maintaining a key role in organizing sectoral consultations: the Coordination Council will continue to play a leading role in assessing the needs of a democratic Belarus.

Source: NAM

“Belarusians must see that European perspective is the only alternative to the Russian world”

Jun 25, 2024

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya launched the meeting of the Belarus–European Union Consultative Group in Brussels. The third meeting of representatives of Belarus’ democratic forces and the Western partners focused on several issues:

⚪️ The political situation in Belarus and human rights;

🔴 Accountability for the regime;

⚪️ Preparations for the 2025 presidential campaign;

🔴 Efforts to free political prisoners;

⚪️ Mobility of Belarusians.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya emphasized the search for solutions to these problems during her speech:

📌 “To defeat the regime, we must achieve understanding and support from the people. Now, more than ever, we need to strengthen independent media and our national identity”.

📌 “Belarusians must see that the European perspective is the only alternative to the Russian world. Belarusians need to feel that Europe stands by them and that Europe’s doors will be open when the time comes”.

📌 “In 2025, Lukashenka hopes to be ‘re-elected’. However, we must not allow the regime to ‘turn over the page’ and return to how things were before. This ‘election’ will not be recognized by either Belarusians or the international community. We will use this campaign to mobilize our supporters and draw attention to the situation in Belarus”.

📌 “Our current priority must be to support Belarusians’ potential. We need to support the people who continue to fight, both inside the country and in exile. I am confident that a new window of opportunity will open – and we must all be ready for it”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Sweden Supports Democratic Belarus Without Lukashenko

Jun 25, 2024

On June 25th, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström met with representatives of Belarusian democratic forces, including members of the NAM team. During the meeting, the minister pledged to make every effort to ensure that Belarus remains a priority for Europe.

Citing the Lukashenko regime's complicity in the aggression against Ukraine and its widespread human rights violations, the minister emphasized that Europe will continue to monitor the situation in Belarus closely. He affirmed Sweden's commitment to supporting Belarusians and expressed his belief that Belarus's future lies with Europe.

Minister Billström placed particular emphasis on the importance of Belarusian culture and language, as well as educational opportunities for Belarusian citizens in Europe. He also highlighted the significance of initiatives that foster unity within Belarusian society.

A NAM representative present at the meeting stressed that lasting peace and harmony in Belarus are unattainable without justice being served upon members of the Lukashenko regime and accountability for those who have suffered from repression. The Swedish minister was urged to support initiatives by Belarusian democratic forces within the OSCE framework, as well as efforts to hold members of the regime accountable through the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.

Source: NAM

UN established Human Rights Expert Group on Belarus

Jun 21, 2024

The President of the Human Rights Council has appointed the members of the new Group of Independent Experts on Human Rights in Belarus. The group includes Susan Bazilli (Canada), Karinna Moskalenko (Russian Federation), and Monika Stanisława Płatek (Poland).

The Legal Team of the Office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya notes: “The establishment of such an expert group is an unprecedented procedure for Belarus. It testifies to the high-level attention from international human rights organizations to what is happening in our country. The events of 2020 and subsequent years are not forgotten. Crimes will be investigated, and the perpetrators will be held internationally accountable”.

What are the duties of the Human Rights Expert Group on Belarus? 

📎 Investigating and establishing the facts, circumstances, and causes of human rights violations and abuses committed in Belarus since May 1, 2020;

📎 Collecting, summarizing, preserving, and analyzing evidence of such violations and abuses. Identifying perpetrators where possible, considering judicial and other proceedings, including criminal prosecution in courts and tribunals;

📎 Making recommendations on measures to hold the perpetrators accountable in order to end impunity in Belarus;

📎 Ensuring accountability and access to justice and effective remedies, including compensation for victims;

📎 Cooperating with all interested parties (Belarusian, as well as regional and international civil society, international human rights organizations) to exchange information and take actions to hold the perpetrators of human rights violations in Belarus accountable.

The Legal Team of Sviatlana Tsikhanoyskaya’s Office continues to actively cooperate with the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus. In particular, it has prepared a set of documents on human rights violations in Belarus and methods of holding all perpetrators internationally accountable to make sure the joint work with the UN Human Rights Expert Group on Belarus can begin as soon as possible.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya met with Foreign Minister of Armenia

Jun 20, 2024

The Belarusian leader met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Ararat Mirzoyan, in Vilnius. During their dialogue, they discussed the political situation in Belarus, Armenia, and the region, as well as the cooperation of Belarus’ democratic forces with the government, Parliament, and civil society of Armenia.

Mr. Mirzoyan and Ms. Tsikhanouskaya separately talked about the situation of Belarusians in Armenia, specifically discussing the non-extradition of Belarusian citizens at the request of the Lukashenka regime.

At the end of the meeting, the Belarusian leader expressed hope for continued close cooperation between Armenia and the democratic forces of Belarus. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya emphasized that the people of Armenia and Belarus deserve a free, democratic, and European future.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Latvia stands for holding the Lukashenko regime accountable for atrocities against the Belarusian people

Jun 20, 2024

“Citizens of Belarus who visit Latvia in personal cars with Belarusian registration will be able to continue to enter the territory of Latvia,” noted Latvian Foreign Minister Baiba Braže during the meeting with the deputy head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, head of the National Anti-Crisis Management Pavel Latushka, in response to the corresponding appeal from the representative of the democratic forces of Belarus.

Pavel Latushka informed the Latvian Foreign Minister about the results of the elections to the Coordination Council and about the actions of the democratic forces of Belarus aimed at strengthening the three institutions of democratic forces: the President-Elect, the United Transitional Cabinet, and the Coordination Council.

Pavel Latushka outlined the importance of achieving accountability, both for Lukashenko personally and for his representatives, for the illegal displacement of Ukrainian children and for the ongoing crimes against humanity committed against the Belarusian people. He presented detailed information about the work of the NAM team in these areas.

Ms Braže emphasized the importance of holding “the Lukashenko regime accountable for atrocities against the Belarusian people and joint aggression against Ukraine.” Latvia also advocates increasing EU sanctions pressure on the Lukashenko regime to “limit the possibility of circumventing sanctions against Russia” by limiting the transit of goods passing through Belarus into the Russian Federation when Belarus is used to circumvent European sanctions imposed on Russia for its aggression against Ukraine. The Latvian Foreign Minister noted her readiness to consider NAM proposals to introduce Latvian national personal and economic sanctions.

During the discussion of increasing sanctions pressure on the Lukashenko regime, Ms Braže informed Pavel Latushka that a sanctions package against Russia had been agreed upon, which opens up opportunities for further coordination of the sanctions package against the Lukashenko regime. This package should be aimed at harmonizing sanctions against Russia and the Lukashenko regime. They discussed the existing challenges for agreeing on this package and possible assistance from the democratic forces of Belarus for its adoption.

In connection with an appeal from Belarusian citizens, who note the visits of European countries by representatives of Belarusian propaganda, as well as persons who are a potential threat to national security, the NAM team will prepare proposals for introducing personal sanctions against these representatives and transfer them to Latvia.

The topic related to the legalization of Belarusian citizens located in Latvia was also raised. The Foreign Minister informed Mr. Latushka that Belarusians would have the opportunity to apply for refugee status or international protection and subsequently receive an international travel document.

Ms Braže emphasized that possible restrictions on Belarusian vehicles will not apply to personal cars of Belarusian citizens with Belarusian registration.

Source: NAM

Lukashenko's officials are admitting that sanctions are hitting the regime hard

Jun 15, 2024

Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Parkhomchik recently admitted at a recent meeting with Lukashenko that sanctions, which are supposedly making Lukashenko’s regime stronger, have actually hurt wood pellet production in Belarus. 

Before 2020, Belarus had established approximately 60 pellet production facilities, with a total capacity of about a million tons per year. Parkhomchik noted that these enterprises were created to meet the high demand for these products in Europe. However, according to the Deputy Prime Minister, supplies to Europe have been suspended. Unsurprisingly, Parkhomchik fails to explain the reasons behind this suspension or who is responsible. He conveniently overlooks the mass repressions in Belarus, the migration crisis on the EU borders, and the Lukashenko regime's complicity in Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

Sanctions are also impacting cross-border payments processed by banks. This information comes not from Parkhomchik, but from a recent report by National Bank. Specifically, at the National Bank's initiative, commercial banks have begun advising corporate clients on navigating international settlements. To facilitate the evasion of financial sanctions, the National Bank has even established a dedicated working group to coordinate foreign economic settlements. Banks have also taken steps “to clear suspended payments, including using alternative systems for transmitting financial information or clearing mechanisms.”

One such system employed for conducting transactions is the Financial Message System of the Bank of Russia (SPFS). We have brought this to the attention of David O’Sullivan, the EU Special Representative for Sanctions, as a means of circumventing the imposed restrictions. Consequently, the EU, along with the G7 countries, is prepared to implement restrictions against SPFS in upcoming sanctions packages.

Chairman of the State Customs Committee, Vladimir Orlovsky, has gone even further by exposing all of Lukashenko’s schemes for illegally circumventing the existing sanctions. While Lukashenko and his officials claim they can do without trade with the West and will simply reorient towards the East, it appears they still heavily rely on Western goods and are willing to go to any lengths to obtain them.

Orlovsky revealed at a meeting of the Council of the Republic on April 10 that Lukashenko was compelled to sign a document implementing a series of anti-sanctions measures. This document "creates conditions for the possibility of selling goods, exported from the European Union to third countries in transit through Belarus, from temporary storage warehouses to Belarusian enterprises."

Orlovsky explains that, for instance, equipment is documented as being in transit from Europe to Asia but is then sold to a Belarusian enterprise within Belarus. He admits that current legislation does not allow for such sales, effectively acknowledging that Lukashenko’s regime is engaging in state-sponsored sanctions evasion, even violating its own laws. Orlovsky also shared that to circumvent sanctions, equipment is often imported in parts, utilizing complex, multi-stage logistics chains.

However, the most striking admission that sanctions are impacting the regime came from Lukashenko’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Valentin Rybakov. He labeled the sanctions against the Lukashenko regime as nothing short of an act of terrorism!

Despite the rhetoric from Lukashenko’s administration about the severe impact of sanctions, some so-called experts are attempting to argue that these sanctions are ineffective and should be abandoned altogether. The louder the regime officials complain about sanctions, the louder the calls to end them become.

We, however, will continue to collaborate with our international partners to strengthen sanctions pressure on Lukashenko’s criminal regime.

Pavel Latushka, Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, Ambassador.

Source: NAM

“What regime is doing to our loved ones is called torture”

Jun 14, 2024

During her working visit to Washington, the Belarusian leader participated in a hearing of the Helsinki Commission, the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. This independent US government body deals with monitoring human rights and the implementation of the Helsinki Accords.

In her speech, Ms. Tsikhanouskaya highlighted the daily repression in Belarus and the horrific conditions in which people are held in prisons. She called on the international community to intensify pressure on the regime to ensure the swift release of those imprisoned.

Here are the key points from Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s speech:

📌 “People behind bars are kept fully incommunicado. They might see the sky once a day during a brief walk in the prison yard. They are deprived of medical and legal assistance and any communication with the outside world. What the regime is doing to our loved ones is called torture”.

📌 “When you are in the hands of the KGB, your chances of release are close to zero. They will record a video where you confess to crimes you did not commit. The KGB posts these videos on YouTube as a means of spreading fear and hopelessness”.

📌 “For political prisoners and their families, there is a form of torture known as incommunicado detention. This is when political prisoners receive no word from their relatives. Most mothers can’t go a day without calling their children. But the parents of political prisoners do not have that luxury”.

📌 “Political prisoners are not only a political issue but also a humanitarian one. I urge the US to support our call to the UN Secretary-General to ensure access to those behind bars. We must hold the perpetrators accountable. Judges, prosecutors, prison administrators, propagandists, Lukashenka, and all his cronies must know that every crime will be documented and prosecuted by law”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Legal Team’s comment on Serbia’s decision to extradite Andrei Hniot to Belarus

Jun 13, 2024

On June 13, the lawyers of movie director Andrei Gnet received the decision of the Higher Court in Belgrade on Andrei’s possible extradition to Belarus. If extradited for criminal prosecution, Andrei will inevitably face a severe prison term for his peaceful civil activism and exercising his rights.

During the months Andrei has been in custody in Belgrade, the Legal Team of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Office has made every effort to prevent his extradition. We have been in touch with diplomatic representatives of EU countries, lawyers, human rights defenders, attorneys, and journalists to ensure his release.

Please note that the court’s decision does not mean our efforts were in vain. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Office continues to fight for Andrei Hniot’s freedom. We have already informed European diplomats in Belgrade of the decision. Andrei’s lawyers are preparing documents for an appeal. He has also been provided contacts to receive legal assistance for an application to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary. Information on Andrei Hniot’s case has been sent to the European Commission. We remain in close contact with Andrei, providing him with assistance and support.

We urge everyone to support Andrei in this fight in every way possible! 

Share information about Andrei’s situation if it is safe for you to do so. Send letters to Serbian diplomatic missions demanding his release. We are doing everything we can to ensure Andrei can leave Serbia and move to a safe third country. With your support, Andrei will reach safety and reunite with his loved ones much sooner.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya met with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan

Jun 12, 2024

During the discussion, the parties addressed the need for comprehensive support for Belarus and Ukraine. Ms. Tsikhanouskaya spoke about Belarusian volunteer fighters and aid workers in Ukraine, emphasizing the importance of Ukraine’s victory for a democratic transition in Belarus. She raised the issue of the military and political situation in Belarus, highlighting the negligible public support for joining the war and unification with Russia.

A crucial topic of the talks was strengthening pressure on the Lukashenka regime. Ms. Tsikhanouskaya stressed that restrictions should have no loopholes and must aim at the release of political prisoners, targeting the regime and its assistance to Russia in the war.

Ms. Tsikhanouskaya also underscored the importance of issuing visas and supporting Belarusian civil society in exile as Belarusians need to remain mobile while the regime must be isolated.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya met with Nancy Pelosi and US Senators

Jun 12, 2024

During the first day of her visit to Washington, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya met with former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, as well as US Senators, Jeanne Shaheen, Dick Durbin, and Peter Welch.

Ms. Tsikhanouskaya praised American leadership in opposing dictators. She called for supporting the Belarusian democratic community and increasing pressure on the regime to release political prisoners and end Belarus’ involvement in Russia’s war against Ukraine. The leader discussed the results of the Coordination Council election and the democratic forces’ plans for 2025.

During the meeting, the parties discussed:

📌The draft of a new Belarus Democracy Act, which would strengthen the agency of Belarus’ democratic forces and could contribute to increased support for Belarus;

📌A campaign in support of political prisoners in Belarus, particularly imprisoned journalists, and possible steps for their release;

📌Sanctions against the Lukashenka regime;

📌Continued and expanded support for free media, repressed individuals, cultural, and human rights initiatives;

📌Support for repressed individuals;

📌Belarus-related events during the NATO Summit;

📌Support for the Belarusian diaspora in the USA.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called for distinguishing between the Belarusian people and the regime and noted that Belarus must not become a consolation prize for Putin.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Luxembourg Solutions: Conference on issues faced by Belarusians in exile

Jun 10, 2024

On June 6-7, an international conference took place in Luxembourg on the problems faced by exiled Belarusians. The event, organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Luxembourg Parliament, was attended by Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Xavier Bettel, the President of the PACE, Theodoros Rousopoulos, diplomats and politicians from more than 20 countries, as well as representatives of Belarus’ democratic forces, media, business associations, and cultural initiatives. 

During the meetings with the leadership of Luxembourg, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya discussed the implementation of the PACE recommendations on simplifying the visa and legalization procedures for Belarusians at the EU level; support for the repressed and political prisoners through the humanitarian fund, as well as for independent media, civil society, and Belarusian culture; and preparations for the peace summit on Ukraine, the NATO summit and the UN General Assembly. 

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Belarus was represented at Confidence in Tomorrow Conference for first time

Jun 05, 2024

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Advisor on Youth Policy and Students, Marharyta Vorykhava, participated in the Confidence in Tomorrow Conference in Strasbourg. The event was held on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Council of Europe and was attended by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Michael O’Flaherty, and the President of the European Youth Forum, María Rodríguez Alcázar.

Belarus was represented at such an event for the first time thanks to the efforts of Belarusian youth organizations, the active work of democratic forces, and international partners. Previously, the country had not participated in such meetings due to the political isolation of the regime.

During the conference, Marharyta Vorykhava highlighted the repression against Belarusian youth organizations and called on the international community to support and protect them. She emphasized the importance of access to European education for Belarusian youth: “To involve young Belarusians in democratic processes, we need greater efforts and assistance from European partners”.

“Such events increase the international community’s awareness of the problems faced by Belarusian youth and intensify comprehensive pressure on the regime. This is an opportunity to raise additional resources for youth organizations and projects, as well as a step towards expanding exchange programs and educational projects”, – commented Marharyta Vorykhava.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya


Jun 04, 2024

On May 28, the results of the Coordination Council election were announced. Eight electoral lists out of twelve announced were included in the third convocation. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya held video calls with new delegates of the Coordination Council, as well as with members of the lists that did not make it to the body.

The Belarusian leader thanked the delegates for participating in the election and expressed support for those who were persecuted for their activity during the election campaign.  The main topics of discussion were the role of the Coordination Council, priority areas of work, cooperation with the United Transitional Cabinet, and the ways the Coordination Council could strengthen the democratic forces.

“We are working for a common cause, and we share one common goal – a free Belarus”, the Belarusian leader commented on the online meetings. “It was important for me to hear everyone. I see that people who ran for the Coordination Council are willing to work. I am especially glad to see new people who have taken a big risk and joined political work”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Bringing Lukashenko to justice will improve security in Europe

Jun 03, 2024

Pavel Latushka participated in the “Faces of the New Europe” discussion panel at the 10th International European Conference in Gdansk. The event took place at the European Solidarity Centre, a location imbued with the history of European transformation.

“There is a well-known expression, ‘elephant in the room,’” Latushka noted during the discussion. “Well, this elephant isn’t going anywhere if we ignore it. It will destroy everything and everyone around it. This elephant is Russia. And it’s already here, in our European home. We might be scared, all of Europe might be, but there’s another saying: “Eat an elephant one bite at a time”. The Lukashenko regime in Belarus, Russia’s closest ally, is exactly the bite we need to take if we want to get rid of the elephant for good. And it’s a bite that Europe can definitely chew.”

The discussion panel included Basil Kerski, director of the European Solidarity Center in Gdansk; David Gregosz, a political scientist and director of the Polish office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation; Mykola Kniazhitsky, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament and co-chair of the parliamentary group on relations with Poland; and Iwona Reichardt, deputy editor-in-chief of "New Eastern Europe" magazine.

While participating in the discussion panel, Pavel Latushka noted: “If democracy had won in Belarus in 2020, then there might not have been a war. The lack of a clear strategy towards Belarus, both in 2020 and today, is a crucial issue that will determine the future of Belarus and Belarusians in the European Union. Solidarity is incredibly important to us, and it is deeply meaningful that we are discussing this in Gdansk, the birthplace of the Solidarity movement.

At the same time, we know that the future of Belarus ultimately depends on us, Belarusians. Our priority right now is preventing a new Berlin Wall from dividing Belarus and Europe. We understand the importance of national security for all EU members, and we ask our European partners to keep the doors open for Belarusians – making it easier to obtain visas, including digital visas. This would demonstrate Europe’s commitment to Belarusians, as well as its effectiveness in supporting those who still believe in democracy. I’m talking about the matter of the Lukashenko regime’s responsibility.

On my personal channel, I recently conducted a poll asking Belarusians which of our coalition's working priorities they consider to be most important. Seventy-five percent of Belarusians who responded said that holding the Lukashenko regime and its collaborators accountable for their crimes is paramount.

It is also important to talk about formally recognizing the institutions that are building democratic power. Belarusians today are fighting for democracy, which means they are fighting for their future in Europe. They have faced horrific repression and torture in their own country. It is crucial to understand this and to respond with a clear action plan that supports their struggle.”

The main takeaway from the Polish and Ukrainian participants in the discussion was the importance of “unconditional support for Ukraine, which is fighting for its territorial integrity against the aggressor, and democratic Belarus, whose people are fighting and also suffering from violence and repression.”

During his visit to Gdansk, Latushka also had a brief meeting with the city’s mayor, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz. Mayor Dulkiewicz invited Latushka to a more in-depth meeting to discuss the concerns of Belarusians living in Gdansk. They agreed to compile a list of questions in advance to ensure a productive meeting. Latushka also met with Jacek Karnowski, a member of the Polish parliament’s group on cooperation with democratic Belarus, and they agreed to a follow-up meeting in Warsaw with other members of the group.

Source: NAM

The Swedish Commercial Employees' Union has transferred 30,000 kronor to support Belarusian volunteers fighting for freedom in Ukraine   

May 28, 2024

The decision to support the Belarusian heroes was made at the union's meeting in April following a presentation by a representative of the People's Embassy of Belarus in Sweden

We sincerely thank the union for their generous support!

Source: People's Embassy of Belarus in Sweden 

“We must not allow new Iron Curtain between Belarus and Europe – that’s what dictators want”

May 27, 2024

The Belarusian leader spoke at a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. She congratulated Lithuania on assuming the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and called for granting democratic Belarus an observer status in the Committee of Ministers.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “Allow me to congratulate Lithuania on assuming the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. As you know, Lithuania is not just our neighbor. It is a dedicated ally in our struggle for freedom.

I am grateful to the Parliamentary Assembly and each of your countries and parliaments for the consistent policy in liberating Belarus and sovereign Ukraine.

To succeed, we need, on the one hand, to isolate dictators Putin and Lukashenka, and on the other hand, to support the people fighting for freedom. Sanctions are not a silver bullet but a tool to weaken dictatorial regimes and deprive them of resources for war and repression. They should not have loopholes or exceptions. While isolating Lukashenka, I ask you not to isolate the Belarusian people.

Thank you to the Parliamentary Assembly for adopting the January resolution on Belarus, which calls for supporting the mobility of Belarusians, issuing visas, and strengthening people-to-people ties. We must not allow a new Iron Curtain between Belarus and Europe – that’s what dictators want.

It is time to strengthen cooperation between the PACE and Belarusian democratic forces. This will allow us to not only learn and practice democracy but also develop an effective strategy vis-a-vis Belarus.

We want Belarus to join the Council of Europe. This will be our first step towards integration into the European Union. Meanwhile, please support our call to grant democratic Belarus an observer status in the Committee of Ministers. Let’s deprive the illegitimate regime in Minsk of the right to represent Belarus. I know this is unprecedented. But we live in non-conventional times. And such times require non-conventional solutions”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

#WithoutJustCause Congress on Political Prisoners in Prague

May 27, 2024

From May 23 to 25, Prague hosted the #WithoutJustCause Congress on Political Prisoners. It was attended by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Jana Marian. Among the participants was Nobel Peace Prize laureate Oleksandra Matviichuk (her Ukrainian "Center for Civil Liberties" received the prize in 2022 along with Belarusian political prisoner Ales Bialiatski and the Russian human rights organization "Memorial").

Representatives from The Office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, The United Transitional Cabinet, The Coordination Council, The Belarusian Helsinki Committee, "Viasna," DissidentBY, BYhelp, and "A Country to Live in" foundation also participated in the Congress. The head of our Foundation shared that during the congress, participants summarized information on what is specifically lacking, what can be improved, and what needs attention in the system of assistance to political prisoners.

"This is the first event of this format on the topic of political prisoners in almost four years," said Olga Zazulinskaya, head of the "A Country to Live in" foundation. "All the speakers were well-prepared, there were many statistics and presentations. It was valuable to listen to domestic political prisoners and former political prisoners during the congress. The only thing that, of course, disappointed me was the weak media coverage. Radio Liberty and Nasha Niva were present and covered the event on their platforms, for which I am very grateful."

The congress addressed two main discussion vectors: families of political prisoners and former political prisoners both inside the country and abroad. Participants analyzed the needs of these groups and the problems they face both within the country and when relocating. "It was noted that even the existing assistance is insufficient to fully meet all the needs. Particular attention was paid to the issue of assistance within the country, to the difficulties people face every day: the conditions of detention of political prisoners, incommunicado regime, lack of medical care in pre-trial detention centers and colonies," noted Olga Zazulinskaya. According to statistics, repression not only continues but is gaining momentum again.

"I believe that events of this format are simply necessary, and it is desirable that they become regular. I think it is important to invite relatives of political prisoners and former political prisoners because they show the real state of affairs, and we need this to build further work in this field." 

Source: "A Country to Live in" Foundation

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya informed foreign diplomats and politicians about aid needed for Belarus

May 23, 2024

On the sidelines of the Stockholm Conference on Belarus, a non-public panel discussion took place, involving diplomats, officials, and politicians from EU countries and the USA. The discussion was organized by International IDEA and the Lithuanian Embassy in Sweden, headed by former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Lithuanian Ambassador to Belarus, Linas Linkevičius.

“Sanctions alone are not enough to change the regime. Change can only happen from within and only thanks to the Belarusians. Some politicians forget that. This is why sanctions must be combined with aid to the people”, said Ms. Tsikhanouskaya.

The Belarusian leader called for assistance to Belarusian independent media, civil society, families of the repressed, trade unions, human rights defenders, and democratic forces’ institutions.

Ms. Tsikhanouskaya also invited the countries to formalize their relations with the democratic forces. “We ask you to formalize relations with the Belarusian democratic forces, appoint special envoys, and refrain from presenting credentials to the illegitimate Lukashenka. Support the opening of our representative offices in your capitals and create groups “For a Democratic Belarus” in your parliaments, as done here in the Riksdag”, Ms. Tsikhanouskaya emphasized.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Sweden announced five million kronor contribution to support political prisoners in Belarus

May 21, 2024

During the conference in Stockholm dedicated to the Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners in Belarus, the Minister of Sweden for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Johan Forssell, announced that the country is allocating five million Swedish kronor (over 400,000 euros) to the international humanitarian fund for victims of repressions in Belarus established recently in Norway to support political prisoners and their families.

Mr. Forssell noted that deepening dialogue with the Belarusian democratic forces in exile, led by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, is a priority for Swedish policy. “It is important to us that the outside world does not forget the people fighting for a free, democratic, and independent Belarus”, the politician emphasized.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

“Situation in Belarus echoes that of Stalin’s era”

May 16, 2024

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya participated in the International Impact Conference in Poznań, Poland. Over two days, speakers discuss current issues faced by Europe covering various aspects. In particular, politicians like Michelle Obama, Radosław Sikorski, and Sanna Marin, scientists like Timothy Snyder and Ivan Krastev, as well as bank executives, top athletes, and media and technology professionals share their views on regional problems and ways to solve them.

The Belarusian leader discussed the prospects of a political change in Belarus and answered questions.

Here are the main points about the situation in Belarus highlighted by Ms. Tsikhanouskaya in her speech:

📌 “Terror and repression. The situation in Belarus echoes that of Stalin’s era, with arbitrary arrests and constant uncertainty. The regime seeks to sow fear and desperation among the people through violence and Russification”.

📌 “Underground resistance and information warfare. Despite harsh repression, there is active underground resistance – including cyber activists and grassroots intelligence. Russian propaganda actively works to disorient people and create noise to confuse them”.

📌 “Lack of popular support for the authorities. Most Belarusians hate Lukashenka and are tired of his rule. His support is maintained by security and special services and pro-Russian bureaucrats”.

📌 “Political preferences. Surveys show that Lukashenka’s support is around 20%, while the majority of the population supports Belarus’ independence and improving relations with the EU. The vast majority oppose participation in the war and the stationing of nuclear weapons”.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya also outlined practical steps through which the European community can help Belarus:

✔️ Support for independent media and civil society;
✔️ Synchronization of pressure on the regime;
✔️ Visa support and integration;
✔️ Support for a European perspective for Belarus;
✔️ Cooperation with democratic forces;
✔️ Accountability for the regime through universal jurisdiction.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s statement on release of Yaraslau Novikau in Armenia: “I hope this case will set a positive precedent”

May 10, 2024

In early 2024, Yaroslav Novikau was detained while crossing the border between Georgia and Armenia. The regime had initiated a criminal case against the young man, accusing him of evading military service, and requested an interstate search within the CIS. Yaraslau, who had left the country due to the threat of mobilization, was placed in jail in Armenia to wait for a decision on his extradition. At the same time, lawyers from the Helsinki Association and representatives of democratic forces began advocating for Novikau’s release.

Today, the Armenian side announced that Yaraslau has been granted refugee status and is no longer subject to extradition. He will be released shortly.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “Let me congratulate Yaraslau and his family on this news. I want to thank the Armenian authorities for this decision and their open approach to communication. Both representatives of democratic forces and human rights defenders have been raising Yaraslau’s case because defending Belarusians and ensuring their safety are our priorities.

I hope this case will set a positive precedent and help us further address security issues faced by Belarusians”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

How can democratic Belarus contribute to Europe’s security?

May 10, 2024

After the start of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, the regime’s rhetoric has become more aggressive, including towards neighboring countries. We explain below why supporting democratic Belarus is not just a humanitarian but also a strategic necessity for Europe’s security.


The sentiment of the absolute majority of society is a key factor preventing the Belarusian army from becoming a full participant in Russia’s aggression. The Second World War, which ravaged Belarus, touched every family, claiming the lives of people’s loved ones and destroying livelihoods and property.

Essentially, the war became a tragic part of history for each of us. For Belarusians, there is no narrative of “We Can Do It Again”. There is only “Never Again”.


If Putin wants it, there is no doubt it will happen. In 2020, Lukashenka claimed that attacks on Ukraine would never occur from Belarusian territory. Some believed this but now it’s obvious that none of his promises can be taken seriously. After Belarus became a launchpad in Russia’s attack on Ukraine, “security guarantees” are no longer possible. You cannot negotiate with dictators, let alone rely on their promises.


As long as Belarus is controlled by the regime, it remains a puppet in the hands of the Kremlin. Democratic changes in the country will allow Belarus to stop being a threat to its neighbors and become a responsible partner for Europe and a regional security donor.


Lukashenka’s resistance to Putin is a false propaganda narrative. Lukashenka is doing exactly what Putin demands. He has provided Belarusian railways and airports as infrastructure for military operations, hospitals for treating wounded Russian soldiers, and training grounds for mobilized troops.

In addition, the regime has allowed the Kremlin to use Belarus’ territory for its attack on Ukraine, supplied ammunition to Russia, and offered to host the Wagner PMC in the summer of 2023.


The future that Belarusians want for themselves and their children is peace, not war. Partnership and peaceful coexistence with all neighbors, including Western countries, are important priorities for democratic Belarus. We have nothing to fight for with our neighbors.


Decisions on the use of nuclear weapons are made in the Kremlin. If Putin decides to attack Ukraine or any other country, Belarus’ territory will face retaliation strikes.

The Kremlin uses Belarusians as a human shield. This turns Belarus into a target. At the very least, for this reason alone, nuclear weapons must be returned to Russia.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya met for first time with NATO Secretary General

May 07, 2024

The Head of the United Transitional Cabinet, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, had her first meeting with NATO officials. 

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya met with the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, with her Deputy at the Cabinet, Valery Kavaleuski also participating. Additionally, within the framework of the North Atlantic Council, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya held a briefing for the permanent representatives of all NATO member countries to exchange views on the crisis in Belarus and the prospects for dialogue on the political agenda between Belarus’ democratic movement and NATO.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “I am glad that this meeting took place, commencing dialogue with the democratic forces of Belarus. Belarusians share the values enshrined in the alliance: individual freedom, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. 

I believe that every European country must build respectful and constructive relations with NATO. This is important for both national interests and regional security. I would like Belarus to be perceived as a reliable and peaceful partner”.

Valery Kavaleuski: “The start of a dialogue with NATO is the result of the United Transitional Cabinet’s work to expand cooperation with international organizations. For 75 years, NATO has been vital for Europe’s security and stability. We must inform the international community about the challenges facing our country”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Letter of Intent on Cooperation between the European Parliament and the Belarusian Democratic Forces 

May 03, 2024

The European Parliament and the Belarusian Democratic Forces (the Parties),

determined to enhance relations between the European Parliament and the democratic forces and civil society of Belarus, pursuant to the European Parliament resolution of 13 September 2023 on relations with Belarus[1],

condemning the unprecedented repression and the systemic and widespread human rights violations conducted by the Lukashenka regime, which may amount to crimes against humanity, and standing in solidarity with the people, democratic movement and civil society of Belarus in their struggle for a free, sovereign and democratic Belarus,

recognising the courageous fight of the Belarusian people to establish democracy, preserve independence and defend national identity in light of the Lukashenka regime’s dangerous undermining of the sovereignty of Belarus by turning it into a satellite state of Russia,

warmly acknowledging and supporting the public declarations made by the leader of the Belarusian democratic movement, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, by the Coordination Council, by the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus and by Belarusian political parties about the European aspirations of Belarusians,

welcoming the opening of the Mission of Democratic Belarus in Brussels and the establishment of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, which, together with the Coordination Council, should be treated by the international community as the representatives of the people of Belarus,

hereby agree on the following common objectives and directions of cooperation:

Done in Brussels, on May 3, in English and Belarusian, with both texts being equally authentic.

[1] OJ C, C/2024/1761, 22.3.2024, ELI:

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

“We do not need special occasions to talk about political prisoners” 

May 02, 2024

Many political prisoners in Belarus are deprived of letters, phone calls, and meetings. They are isolated from their families and lawyers and denied the medical assistance they need. Incommunicado detention deprives them of any communication with the outside world as the regime tries to make political prisoners believe that no one supports them.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “We do not need special occasions to remember how important it is to support our political prisoners. It’s been 443 days since we’ve heard from Maryia Kalesnikava. It’s been 449 days for Maksim Znak. 448 days for Mikalai Statkevich. 452 days for Viktar Babaryka. 438 days for Ihar Losik. For 421 days, I’ve had no information about the fate of my husband, Siarhei.

In every visit, I repeat: people are dying in Belarusian prisons. Political prisoners are held incommunicado and in terrible conditions. I urge international organizations and diplomats to push for access to prisons and demand the immediate release of all political prisoners. In a situation where they are being tortured and denied any assistance, this is rather a humanitarian than a political issue.

Dear friends, please, speak out loudly about our political prisoners. Support them and their families with letters, parcels, and donations if it is safe for you. Help can’t be small. Everything we do contributes to a great cause”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

International humanitarian fund to support political prisoners and their families from Belarus was established in Norway

Apr 30, 2024

An international humanitarian fund to support Belarusian political prisoners and their families has been established in Norway at the initiative of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Support will include medical, material, and psychological assistance, as well as rehabilitation for individuals who have suffered political repression from the regime.

During her working visit to Oslo, the Belarusian leader met with Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, who confirmed that Norway will allocate 10 million Norwegian kroner as the first contribution to the fund. Belarusian organizations and initiatives that assist political prisoners and their families will administer it.

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently working on formalizing the fund’s operations. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barts Eide, supported this initiative and emphasized, “The situation with political prisoners in Belarus is very alarming. Such assistance is much needed for the rehabilitation of former political prisoners and their families”.

Further contributions to the fund can be made by both foreign governments and international organizations, as well as other donors.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Norwegian Helsinki Committee initiated letter in defense of freedom of religion and beliefs in Belarus

Apr 29, 2024

On April 29, when Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya visited the Norwegian Helsinki Committee in Oslo, the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, operating under the auspices of the committee, initiated a letter to be signed by parliamentarians from different countries. It responds to the new law adopted in Belarus, “Amending Laws on the Activities of Religious Organizations”.

The letter highlights several repressive provisions of Belarus’ legislation on religious freedom, which violate human rights standards and contradict Belarus’s international commitments in this area. Parliamentarians call on the Belarusian authorities to “bring Belarusian laws and policies into line with its freely undertaken international commitments” and “take concrete action to provide freedom of religion or belief to all in Belarus”. After signing, the letter will be sent to the Belarusian authorities and Norwegian embassies in various countries.

The International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief (IPPFoRB) includes over 350 current and former parliamentarians and legislators from more than 97 countries worldwide.

Various organizations and institutions have drawn attention to the repressiveness of Belarusian legislation on religious freedom. For example, in February 2024, Christian Vision submitted input for the 2024 report of the Special Rapporteur on Belarus to the UN Human Rights Council, which is focused on freedom of association. Also, in August 2023, UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Belarus addressed the Belarusian authorities regarding the proposed amendments to legislation on religion. The rapporteurs sent a joint letter on the issue of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, as well as freedom of religion or belief.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Marharyta Vorykhava became Vice-Chair of Bureau of Advisory Council on Youth of Council of Europe 

Apr 29, 2024

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Advisor on Youth Policy and Students, Marharyta Vorykhava, participated in the meeting of the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe in Budapest. During the event, Ms. Vorykhava was elected as the Vice-Chair of the Bureau, which is the governing body of the Council of Europe’s Advisory Council on Youth. The advisor explains the benefits of this for Belarusians.

⚪️ Why is this important?

“We know that our country needs the support of international partners. But Belarusians also have expertise, not only about Belarus but also internationally. In this position, we can both influence the assistance provided to Belarus and demonstrate that we have something to offer in return”.

🔴 Is Belarus included in the work plans?

“Essentially, the bureau works on drafting recommendations and resolutions, directing the work of the Council of Europe in the youth sector and other areas that affect it, like environment, artificial intelligence, education, and mobility. This decision will help us make sure that Belarus and the position of Belarusian youth are mentioned in all the documents sent for approval”.

⚪️ Does the Council of Europe’s Contact Group on Belarus work with youth?

“During the meeting with the head of the Youth Department, Tobias Flessenkemper, we discussed the importance of the work of the contact group and comprehensive support for Belarus. The Council of Europe intends to work in this direction and provide more sustainable and long-term support. There already is a plan in place for Belarus, with a significant portion of it focusing specifically on youth”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Independent Belarus as a guarantee of security in Europe

Apr 22, 2024

In 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, several nation states emerged and gained independence. How did Europe respond to this?

For some reason, Western politicians regarded Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia as falling within Russia's sphere of interest. Decades later, it is evident that this decision was a strategic mistake.

In 2014, nobody could have anticipated that Belarus would play a significant role in Russia's aggression against Ukraine in 2022. All of this stems from strategic mistakes made in 1991 and 2014. Granting territorial concessions to the aggressor and attempting appeasement have consistently resulted in negative consequences. Even the Lukashenko regime, which has consistently supported Russia, reached the same conclusions after 2014. The dictator was not concerned about the country or the state, but rather his own power.

Then, between 2014 and 2015, Lukashenko managed to convince Western partners of a favorable narrative: that only he could save Belarus from Putin and guarantee its independence. Lukashenko manipulated the West, fully aware that he had no intention of implementing reforms or relinquishing power. His inclination towards the West was merely an excuse to extract more resources from both the EU and Russia.

We frequently emphasize to our partners that it is only a matter of time before Russia non-militarily annexes Belarus. Lukashenko will be unable to prevent this, but the worst-case scenario is if the Belarusian people are also unable to prevent it.

Our Western partners have a choice:

Only a free, independent, European, and democratic Belarus can guarantee that Russia will no longer be able to carry out aggression, not only against Ukraine but also against the EU.

As a politician, I wholeheartedly endorse all actions taken by our partners to strengthen national security and defense. However, it is crucial for our Western partners to understand that the Belarusian people are the primary force and the main weapon.

In a situation where the Putin and Lukashenko regime decides to once again employ Belarus as a base for aggression against Ukraine or any EU member states, the Belarusian people, who endure daily repression, will be our foremost weapon.

Pavel Latushka: Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, Ambassador 

Source: NAM

Criminal cases against Lukashenko in Poland

Apr 20, 2024

Pavel Latushka: Will Lukashenko come to Poland?

Currently, the National Prosecutor's Office of Poland is conducting criminal proceedings against Alexander Lukashenko and officials under his command for crimes committed against national and political groups, as well as other individuals.

The National Anti-Crisis Management (NAM) is actively working to thoroughly investigate the crimes committed by Lukashenko and his accomplices against Belarusian and foreign citizens. We are providing relevant materials to the Prosecutor's Office of Poland, the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine.

In line with the agreements reached in November 2023, Marcin Wiącek, the Commissioner for Civil Rights of Poland, has updated Pavel Latushka, the head of the National Anti-Crisis Management (NAM), on the progress in reviewing the applications submitted by Belarusians regarding the crimes committed against them.

In his letter to the NAM, the Ombudsman of Poland mentioned that the Department for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption of the National Prosecutor's Office of Poland in Lublin is currently examining the following cases:

A joint investigation team, consisting of Poland, Lithuania, and Germany, has been established to investigate these crimes. The investigation is being conducted based on a decision by the Deputy Prosecutor General of Poland for Organized Crime and Corruption.

Marcin Wiącek assured Pavel Latushka that he will continue to monitor the progress of the investigation to ensure the respect for rights and civil liberties.

Pavel Latushka, head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, commented on the prospects of legal prosecution, stating, "The continued work of the Polish prosecutor's office on the possible involvement of Lukashenko and his accomplices in committing crimes against citizens of Belarus and other countries is crucial to achieving justice for the grave and especially grave crimes committed by the regime in Belarus. We have provided evidence and given testimony in all of the aforementioned cases. We will continue to take all possible actions to ensure the legal prosecution of Lukashenko, including through five international mechanisms such as transferring the situation in Belarus to the ICC for consideration of crimes against humanity, as well as for the war crime of illegally transferring Ukrainian children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine to Belarus, committed by Alexander Lukashenko and his accomplices. I believe that Lukashenko can only come to Poland in handcuffs."

Source: NAM

Over past 4 years, regime in Belarus destroyed more than 1600 non-profit organizations 

Apr 19, 2024

Two years ago, the regime cracked down on activists from independent trade unions. Nearly twenty people remain imprisoned on trumped-up charges. The regime ruthlessly targeted its opponents, yet again demonstrating that it would rather silence the voices of Belarusians than listen to them.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “Two years ago, the regime ruthlessly targeted activists from independent trade unions. Nearly two dozen people, including Aliaksandr Yarashuk and Siarhei Antusevich, were detained on trumped-up charges and thrown behind bars. Thus, Lukashenka not only disposed of dissenting leaders but effectively destroyed the movement itself. Over the past 4 years, the regime in Belarus has destroyed more than 1600 non-profit organizations that worked across various fields – sports, culture, and education, among others. However, care for the people is the regime’s last concern. Because its representatives would rather stifle voices of criticism than listen to fair remarks, making people’s lives a bit more comfortable or simpler.

State propaganda likes to call Belarus’ policies socially oriented. But the rights to work and social protection are no longer a thing there. They are replaced by obligations to pay trade union dues and attend propaganda meetings, where all the problems of Belarusians are blamed on the West and America. People expressing outrage and pointing out that a socially oriented government should care about the health of workers or cover expenses for the treatment and rest of children can end up receiving a prison sentence. For what? For inciting social hatred, as in the case of trade union activists Vatslau Areshka and Vasil Berasneu, who were sentenced to almost ten years in prison each. Although if there was any hatred in their words, it was only towards the government’s lack of care for the people…

Today, the regime claims to have revived the trade union movement. But instead of trade unions, workers’ rights are now “defended” by ideologists – and all they “do” is organize unpaid clean-up events and film pro-government videos.

But trade unions are not about forcing workers to participate in events to demonstrate public interest. They are about defending rights and freedoms. About giving people the opportunity to stand up for themselves and demand decent wages and respectful treatment in any situation. About compliance with modern labor standards. I am confident that Belarusians are well aware of this and know what they want – for their opinions to be heard. For their interests to be protected – not the interests of the people willing to exploit others, intimidating them with violence and prison terms”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Blinken, Baerbock, Cameron, Séjourné. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on results of dialogue with G7 leaders 

Apr 18, 2024

This year’s G7 ministers’ meeting was the first to have Belarus and its interests represented. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya drew the attention of world leaders such as Antony Blinken, Annalena Baerbock, David Cameron, Stéphane Séjourné, Mélanie Joly, Josep Borrell, and Antonio Tajani to the humanitarian crisis in Belarus and its creeping occupation by Russia. The leader also called on the participants to find ways to achieve the release of political prisoners and provide rehabilitation.

After the event, the Belarusian leader recorded an exclusive video address. In it, she shares the results of the G7 event.

Here are some highlights of the address:

📌 “During the meetings, I called on the ministers to continue supporting our civil society and media and spoke about political prisoners. I stressed that our people are dying in prisons. We talked about holding the regime accountable – not only for the war against Ukraine but also for repression against Belarusians”.

📌 “An important decision might be made about assistance to Ukraine in the coming days – and I hope it will be adopted. Because the fates of our countries are intertwined”.

📌 “I am grateful to all Belarusians who continue to fight for change in our country. Be sure that the free world supports us. And I will do everything I can to keep the issue of Belarus on the international agenda”.

The full address in Belarusian is available below.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

The Belarusian Embassy in Brussels opened under a white-red-white flag

Apr 18, 2024

Uladzimir Astapenka, Deputy Head of NAM, recounted the establishment of the Belarusian Embassy in Belgium in 1995.

During that time, in March 1995, Lukashenko himself attended the opening, marking his first and only official visit to Brussels. He engaged in meetings with Belgian leadership and the European Union, signing a partnership and cooperation agreement. However, this agreement never came into effect as its ratification was halted after the unconstitutional referendum of 1996.

Prior to the opening, an ambassador was appointed to Brussels, commencing their work essentially from scratch. Initially, they rented an apartment in a high-rise building, where their efforts began. Later, a separate house was found, which was eventually purchased and renovated to suit the needs of the embassy. As Minister-Counselor of the Belarusian Embassy in Belgium, I actively participated in the process. For the embassy's inauguration, they commissioned a large edition of a splendid postcard, featuring an artist's impressionist depiction of the embassy building with our national flag proudly displayed. And I still have a picture before my eyes - an old building with a white-red-white flag.

After the infamous 1995 referendum, where Lukashenko changed our national symbols to the red and green palette of the BSSR era, instructions were issued to replace the flags. However, the embassy hesitated to immediately remove the white-red-white flag, which continued to adorn the building for a significant period.

Today, in Brussels, there is a representation of the Belarusian society - of the majority, who took to the streets in 2020 under thousands of white-red-white flags to protest against dictatorship and violence. Our national flag proudly flies at the Mission of Democratic Belarus in Brussels. 

This institution's vital work serves as a crucial stepping stone towards the day when national flags will flutter over Belarusian embassies worldwide, unyieldingly standing as a symbol that cannot be taken down.

Source: NAM

Council of Europe Information Point for Belarus in Vilnius: Why is it important?

Apr 17, 2024

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Senior Political Advisor, Alexander Dabravolski, and Advisor on Youth Policy and Students, Marharyta Vorykhava, met with the Director of Political Affairs and External Relations of the Council of Europe, Miroslav Papa.

The meeting was held on the occasion of the launch of the Information Point on the Council of Europe for Belarus in Vilnius. Such information points raise awareness about the CoE activities, including about conventions signed by member states that serve as guidelines for many countries’ policies. Essentially, belonging to the Council of Europe means belonging to the family of civilized states and is an important step towards Belarus’ European future.

A similar institution previously existed in Minsk at the Belarusian State University, though most people could not access it because of the university’s security arrangements. Its activities were limited due to the lack of interest from the Belarusian authorities in expanding cooperation with the Council of Europe.

Therefore, the information point in Vilnius will focus on reaching out to ordinary people. This will help Belarusians understand how such large structures actually work. This initiative will serve as an example of an organization that is open, honest, and accountable.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Senior Political Advisor, Alexander Dabravolski, notes that this is the first and clear step towards promoting the European perspective for Belarus:

“Information centers, besides raising awareness, participate in Council of Europe campaigns and organize events for experts, politicians, and civil society. The launch of this point in Vilnius will be a very important step to set our country on the path towards the community of civilized states”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Canadian authorities and Belarus’ democratic forces initiated joint strategic consultations

Apr 16, 2024

During her trip to Canada, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya held a series of meetings with key politicians of the country, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, as well as the speakers of both chambers of Parliament and opposition leaders.

As a result of the meetings, the following agreements were achieved:

⚪️ Launch of strategic bilateral consultations with the democratic forces of Belarus, similar to the Belarus–USA Strategic Dialogue and focusing on the following main areas:

📌 pressure on the regime;

📌 defending human rights;

📌 media;

📌 countering disinformation.

Cooperation is also possible in the fifth area – covering culture, national identity, and the diaspora.

🔴 New restrictions against the Lukashenka regime. The list includes individuals associated with crimes and repression against Belarusians and will be regularly updated.

⚪️ Allocation of 1 million Canadian dollars to support independent Belarusian media, as well as projects to counter propaganda and disinformation.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “I am truly grateful to Canada for its solidarity with Belarus and the democratic forces. Our cooperation sends a signal to all Belarusians that we are not alone on our path to change and can count on the diverse support of our partners”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Sports of the Lukashenko Regime at the Paris Olympic Games

Apr 16, 2024

It is crucial to address the issue of double discrimination against Belarusian independent athletes, according to the stance of the National Anti-Crisis Management regarding the participation of Belarusians in the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

Presently, Belarusian free athletes face dual discrimination due to inconsistent policies within the international sports community. On one hand, they are discriminated against by the Lukashenko regime for their opposition to violence and war, resulting in their exclusion from national teams, terminations, blacklisting, detentions, or even being compelled to leave Belarus. On the other hand, Belarusian independent athletes are excluded from international sports by the federations themselves due to the aggression launched by Russia against Ukraine with the support of the Lukashenko regime.

Since 2020, the Lukashenko regime has carried out unprecedented repression against athletes. Over 136 Belarusian sports representatives have been unlawfully targeted for their civic activities, leading to terminations, detentions, and blacklisting. Currently, more than 20 Belarusian athletes and sports professionals are officially recognized as political prisoners. SOS.BY has been labeled as an extremist organization by the Belarusian KGB. Athletes who have spoken out against the war have been subjected to a separate wave of repression.

On December 8, 2023, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to allow athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports to participate in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris under strict conditions. One of the conditions introduced is that athletes and service personnel with contracts with the Russian or Belarusian military or law enforcement agencies will not be granted participation in the competitions.

However, the IOC's position was only advisory for international federations. As a result, the specialized federations have the final say on admitting Belarusian athletes to the qualifying competitions. Due to the varying approaches taken by international federations, Belarusian sports find themselves in a situation where independent athletes have been excluded from participating in competitions, while athletes affiliated with the Lukashenko regime have been admitted to the 2024 Olympic Games.

The NAM team has prepared justifications and submitted requests to the IOC and relevant international federations to conduct thorough verification of at least four athletes from the Lukashenko regime who have qualified for the Olympic Games and are associated with military and security forces. We have been in contact with representatives from the International Athletics Federation, the International Swimming Federation, the International Federation of Greco-Roman Wrestling, Freestyle Wrestling, and Women's Wrestling, as well as the national federations of Poland for tennis, football, athletics, and judo. We have also engaged with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Sports of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, France, the United States, and Norway. Additionally, specific efforts are being made within the framework of the Commission of the Ministry of Sports of Poland regarding the admission of athletes with Belarusian and Russian passports.

The National Anti-Crisis Management will continue to collaborate with partner countries, federations, and the IOC to bring about change regarding Belarusian athletes. We express our gratitude to the athletes who contribute to our efforts and provide information for subsequent verification, as well as those who assist in addressing the issue of double discrimination against Belarusian athletes. We extend special thanks to the journalists, including the editorial team of Tribuna, for providing documents that confirm the athletes' affiliation with the military and security forces of the Lukashenko regime.


Source: NAM

Situation in Belarus and region, regime accountability, support for Belarusian diaspora: What Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya discussed during meetings with key politicians of Greece?

Apr 12, 2024

On April 11-12, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was in Greece on a working visit, where she participated in the Delphi Economic Forum and held a series of meetings with key politicians of the country.

With the President of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the Belarusian leader discussed the current situation in Belarus and the region – and stressed the importance of holding the regime accountable, in particular for the hijacking of the Ryanair plane, the forced displacement of Ukrainian children from occupied territories, and crimes against humanity. The parties also talked about the legalization of stay problems faced by Belarusians in Greece and rehabilitation programs for children of repressed Belarusians.

With the Mayor of Athens, Haris Doukas, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya talked about supporting the Belarusian diaspora activities in the city and cultural diplomacy initiatives like residences for Belarusian artists and internships for the Personnel Reserve, helping honest Belarusian businesses, as well as organizing exhibitions and Belarusian-Greek events.

With former Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya visited a number of historical sites in Athens, where Mr. Papandreou spoke about the traditions of Greek parliamentarism. It is worth noting that Mr. Papandreou’s great-grandfather, Zygmunt Mineyko, was born in Belarus and actively participated in the Kastus Kalinouski Uprising. The Belarusian leader brought archival materials about this remarkable person, including information about his line of descent, photographs of ancestors, as well as documents about the property and lands of the Mineykos in Belarus. 

At the end of the meeting, Ms. Tsikhanouskaya invited Mr. Papandreou to Vilnius to visit the graves of his relatives and presented him with a book of memoirs “Z Taihi pad Akropole” (“From the Taiga to the Acropolis”) in the Belarusian language.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Aliaksandr Kulinich, accused of insulting Lukashenka, died in the Brest pre-trial detention center

Apr 11, 2024

On April 9, 2024, Aliaksandr Kulinich died in the Brest pre-trial detention center, Lusterka reports. He was accused under Article 368 of the Criminal Code (insulting Lukashenka). The man was detained on February 29 in Brest, since then he had been in custody. His trial was scheduled to take place on April 16.

According to the sources of the publication, Aliaksandr Kulinich died due to coronary heart disease: this reason is indicated in the death certificate. In pre-trial detention center No. 7 in Brest, journalists were told that there was a prisoner with that name, but refused to confirm the fact of death. The circumstances of Aliaksandr Kulinich's detention are unknown. 

According to Lusterka, Aliaksandr Kulinich was born in Maladzečna on April 11, 1972 (he would have turned 52 years old). He was a lieutenant colonel in the reserve and served in the 38th Separate Guards Airborne Assault Brigade of the Brest Airborne Forces. Recently, he worked as an individual entrepreneur, engaged in food supplements.

Source: Human Rights Center "Viasna" 

“For years, the Belarus regime was using Cyprus for the evasion of sanctions”

Apr 10, 2024

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya gave speech in the Parliment of Cyprus:

“Dear members of the Standing Committee on Foreign and European Affairs 

Dear excellencies, dear friends of freedom

It is an honor and privilege to address you today. And I know that I am among friends. 

It’s my second day here, in Cyprus, but I already feel how close our nations are. Belarusians, much like Cypriots, deeply understand the true value of freedom.

We have many things to learn about each other. And I think my visit here to Cyprus will help to develop the relationship between Belarusians and Cypriots. 

Exactly on this day, 32 years ago, Belarus and Cyprus established a diplomatic relationship. It was two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Belarus experienced democracy, similar to what Cyprus enjoys now. However, 2 years later, the power in my country was seized by a dictator.

In 2020, Belarusians rose up against tyranny, against injustice, and violence. 

I am sure you all remember massive rallies all over the country. Belarusians clearly showed that we see our country as free, democratic, and European, not some pariah or Russian province. 

As you know, I was not a professional politician. I ran for president because I wanted to support my husband, who was imprisoned by Lukashenka’s regime. 

My only promise was to conduct free and fair elections. And we have evidence that I won that election. However, our victory was stolen. The dictator unleashed the brutal terror that continues to this day.  He dragged our country into the criminal war against Ukraine and holds nine million Belarusians as hostages. 

Despite that, we continue to resist. Belarusians demonstrate defiance, conduct acts of sabotage, and will never agree to live under tyranny or Russian Yoke.

In exile, we have formed alternative institutions of power, such as the United Transitional Cabinet and Coordination Council. We continue to represent and defend the interests of the Belarusian people. Because Lukashenka is not the president. He is a criminal who seized power and served his patron in Moscow, not the Belarusian people. 

And he must be brought to account for all the crimes he committed. And his record is long: crimes against humanity, treason against the state, hijacking of the Ryanair flight, deportation of Ukrainian children, and complicity in the war. 

Our mission, the mission of Belarusian democratic forces, remains the same. Our aim is to liberate Belarus from the grip of dictatorship and Russian claws. Lukashenka’s regime must be dismantled. Every political prisoner must be released. Perpetrators must be punished. We need free and fair elections under international supervision.

The regime of Lukashenka is much more vulnerable than it seems. It is like a chair on three legs: money, repression, and Russia. If one leg falls, the whole chair collapses. 

Unfortunately, the situation in Belarus didn’t improve. Political parties, media, and civil society initiatives have been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands had to flee the country because of repressions. This is how Lukashenka takes revenge on people who dared to dream about freedom. 

Thousands are still held as political prisoners under the most inhumane conditions. One of them is my husband. My children have not seen their daddy for four years already. For one year, he is held incommunicado, and I don’t know if he is alive. 

Despite the terror, Belarusians continue to resist. You can’t see big rallies anymore, but the protest went underground. We see the small acts of sabotage, of resistance. And most important – people did not give up. 

After the regime dragged our country into the criminal war against Ukraine, it became evident that Lukashenka doesn’t represent Belarus anymore. He is selling our country to Putin, piece by piece, in exchange for political support.

Therefore, it’s so crucial right now to isolate the regime, politically, economically through sanctions – through all available means. However, while isolating the regime we should not isolate the people. 

We should distinguish the regime from the people: it’s the regime who became Putin’s accomplice. Meanwhile, Belarusian people are fighting for democracy and freedom, and supporting Ukraine. 

For us, the victory of Ukraine will be also our victory. But also vice versa, changes in Belarus can help Ukraine to win faster. Our fates are interconnected.

Dear friends,

I want to thank the Cypriot Parliament and your committee for your strong voice in support of freedom and democracy. I want to ask you to be vocal on Belarus situation, support our democratic aspirations, isolate Belarus regime as it violates international law and human rights. 

You can make statements, resolutions on Belarus. Every action matters. I ask you to pay particular attention to the situation with human rights abuses, political prisoners, involvement of Lukashenka’s regime in the war, and deployment of nuclear weapons on our territory. 

I want to thank you for your strong position on sanctions, and your efforts to counter those who attempt to evade sanctions. For years, the Belarus regime was using Cyprus for the evasion of sanctions. Right now, more than 500 companies in Belarus have Cypriot capital. Many of these companies are related to the regime, support the war and repressions. We rely on your help to identify and sanction them.

I want to ask you to distinguish between Belarus regime and Belarusian people. Many Belarusian continue to fight for freedom both inside the country, and abroad. Belarusian people don’t support the war, and don’t support dictatorship. 

I hope Cyprus will support Belarusians living here in Cyprus, it’s more than 5000 people. Yesterday, I met our diaspora in Limassol. They face many challenges. The regime deprived them of documents, passports. Many can’t return home because they will be immediately arrested. They become de facto stateless.

I hope Cyprus will find a solution for them, providing them with legalization, travel documents, residence permits, and allowing them to open bank accounts. We as democratic forces are ready to provide verification for people and companies residing in Cyprus.

I also encourage you to create the group for democratic Belarus in the Cypriot Parliament. It would be a strong message of solidarity and support, but also an important instrument to strengthen the cooperation between Cyprus and free Belarus. Such groups exist already in almost all EU parliaments.

I also ask you to join our campaign of godparenthood over political prisoners. More than 400 parliamentarians from different countries around the world, “adopted” our journalists, activists, and teachers behind bars. You can pick any political prisoners, and tell their stories – to people in Cyprus and around the world.

And finally, I invite you to pay a visit to Vilnius or Warsaw, to meet former political prisoners, journalists, activists, – to understand our situation, but also to highlight it in your media. 

Dear friends,

Let me express my deepest gratitude for your time and attention. I know that changes in Belarus will need time. But with your help, I am sure, we will be able to succeed. And Belarus will find its rightful place in the European family, as a free and democratic nation.

Thank you”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

UN strengthened accountability mechanisms for human rights violations in Belarus

Apr 05, 2024

During its 55th session, the UN Human Rights Council adopted an important resolution aimed at strengthening accountability mechanisms for human rights violations in Belarus. The document establishes a special group consisting of three independent experts and extends the mandate of the special rapporteur on Belarus for one year. These measures are intended to investigate and document violations committed by the Lukashenka regime and develop recommendations to stop them.

The group will investigate serious and ongoing human rights violations, collect evidence of the regime’s crimes, and identify perpetrators based on independent investigations by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The resolution is a response to the worsening human rights crisis in Belarus, where many remain behind bars on politically motivated charges, facing harsh treatment and being kept incommunicado. Last year, the Lukashenka regime formally deprived victims of human rights violations of the right to submit complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Advisor on Legal Affairs, Kristina Rikhter, emphasizes the importance of the document for holding the regime accountable:

“The resolution itself is not unique – similar decisions on Belarus have already been made by the UN Human Rights Council before. But in this case, we should emphasize the content. The special group established by the UN, in addition to collecting evidence, has been given a mandate to investigate. This is actually a much stronger mechanism that contributes to holding representatives of the regime accountable for their crimes.

I should stress that we have been both closely monitoring the situation and actively advocating for the decision together with other Belarusian human rights organizations. Therefore, we welcome the fact that our voice was heard by the majority of the UN Human Rights Council”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Positive Experience of Obtaining a Passport of a foreigner in Slovenia  

Mar 28, 2024

On March 27th, it was announced that a Belarusian family had obtained a foreign passport (Potni list za tujca) for their 9-year-old son. This is the first known case of a Belarusian obtaining a passport of a foreigner in Slovenia!

Following the adoption of Decree No. 278, which prohibits Belarusian embassies from issuing passports, the Belarusian People's Embassy in Slovenia prepared instructions ( on obtaining a  passport of a foreigner. The conditions for obtaining the document include having a residence permit and the inability to obtain a passport from one's own country.

"Knowing that our son's passport would expire in June 2024 and that traveling to Belarus is unsafe, we approached the Administrative Unit, which, is responsible for issuing passports. Initially, we faced difficulties due to the employee's lack of experience and we got directed us to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We know that previously other Belarusians were denied support because their Belarusian passport had not yet expired. After appealing to the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we received information about the procedure for issuing a passport of a foreigner, and after reapplying, we received a passport valid for 2 years within a week," shared a Belarusian from Slovenia.

The Belarusian People's Embassy in Slovenia ( prepared requests to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, and the Administration of Administrative Units asking for  clarification of the procedure, particularly to make sure that a gap in document validity could be avoided as well as  recognising the danger of returning to Belarus as a sufficient reason for the inability to obtain a passport in light of Decree No. 278.

"More than 400 Belarusians live in Slovenia. According to a survey among the Belarusian diaspora, at least 20 people will face the problem of expired Belarusian passports in the next two years. Currently, the issue of documents for children born in Slovenia is being resolved," commented Alexandra Mamaeva, a representative of the Belarusian People's Embassy in Slovenia.

We hope that the positive experience of obtaining a passport of a foreigner in Slovenia will become a positive precedent not only for the authorities of Slovenia but also for the leadership of other countries.

If you have any questions about obtaining a foreign passport in Slovenia - write to the inbox of the Belarusian People's Embassy in Slovenia at or in our chat-bot (

You can find information for other countries on the website 

Source: People's Embassies of Belarus

How can we bring Lukashenko's regime, as well as himself and his accomplices, to international responsibility?

Mar 27, 2024

Pavel Latushka, the head of the NAM and deputy head of the United Transitional Cabinet, delivered a lecture at the Faculty of International Law at the University of Bialystok, discussing the existing legal mechanisms for holding Lukashenko and his accomplices accountable for the international crimes they have committed. What are these mechanisms?

The first mechanism is the State referral of the „Belarus situation” to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. 

Some may argue that since Belarus is not a party to the Rome Statute, the ICC does not have jurisdiction over international crimes committed in our country. However, the jurisprudence and practice of the ICC suggests that the Court can potentially exercise at least jurisdiction over the crime against humanity of deportation, which refers to situations where the civilian population is forced to leave a country's territory due to an “atmosphere of fear and terror” created by the perpetrators.

Civilians who were compelled to flee Belarus to Poland after being persecuted on political grounds by the Lukashenko regime can be considered victims of deportation. 

Since Poland is a state party to the ICC and deportation is a crime committed on the territory of at least two countries (Belarus and Poland), it is possible to establish the ICC's jurisdiction. 

Poland has the right to refer the "situation in Belarus" to the ICC Prosecutor's Office for potential investigation.

The second mechanism is universal jurisdiction. 

This principle allows states to investigate the most serious international crimes, even if they were committed on the territory of another country and neither the perpetrator nor the victim are nationals of the state initiating the criminal investigation. 

Applications have already been submitted under this mechanism in Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Switzerland.

The third mechanism is the referral of the dispute to the International Court of Justice. 

Considering the widespread commission of acts constituting torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, there are grounds to assert that Belarus has violated its obligations under the relevant international Convention against Torture of 1984, to which Belarus is a party. 

Since the violated provisions of the Convention are obligations to the entire world community (erga omnes), virtually any state party to the Convention can file an application against Belarus to the International Court of Justice.

Furthermore, A. Lukashenko and his accomplices may be subject to criminal liability for war crimes. 

With the onset of Russia's large-scale war against Ukraine, in which the Lukashenko regime is involved, the NAM has been documenting instances of the illegal displacement of children from Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine to Belarus. Such actions potentially constitute a war crime.

It is known that from September 2022 to May 2023, approximately 2,100 children aged 6 to 15 years, hailing from at least 15 occupied Ukrainian cities, were transported to the Belarusian Dubrava camp under the pretext of "rehabilitation." 

In this regard, the NAM has prepared and submitted two Communications under Article 15 of the Rome Statute to the ICC Prosecutor's Office.

Source: NAM

Great News for Belarusians in Germany 

Mar 27, 2024

Mikhail Taube, the representative of the Belarusian People's Embassy in Germany, is pleased to inform about significant changes in German legislation that will greatly ease the lives of Belarusians seeking German citizenship.

From June 26, 2024, changes to the German citizenship law come into force, bringing two key pieces of news for Belarusians:

The Possibility to Retain Belarusian Citizenship:

Now, Belarusians can apply for German citizenship without renouncing their Belarusian citizenship. This opens new opportunities, simplifying the integration process and offering the chance to acquire dual citizenship without the need to forsake their roots.

Elimination of the Need to Appeal to Lukashenko:

Another significant point is that Belarusians no longer need to request renunciation of Belarusian citizenship from Lukashenko's regime and the dictator personally. This removes a moral and psychological barrier for many who find it unacceptable to appeal to the current self-proclaimed president of Belarus.

More details on the changes in the German citizenship law can be found at this link.

Source: People's Embassies of Belarus

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called on foreign diplomats to appoint special envoys for relations with democratic Belarus

Mar 26, 2024

At the Embassy of Lithuania in Prague, the leader of the United Transitional Cabinet, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, met with ambassadors and diplomats from Argentina, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Bulgaria. On the occasion of the meeting, the Lithuanian embassy displayed the white-red-white flag.

Ms. Tsikhanouskaya talked about the results of her visit to Prague and shared the plans of the democratic forces. A discussion followed the Belarusian leader’s speech. Ms. Tsikhanouskaya urged the countries to appoint special envoys for relations with Belarus’ democratic forces, as Estonia, France, Sweden, Lithuania, Poland, and other nations have done. The leader requested more visas for Belarusians and called for issuing alien passports, suspending the requirement of apostilles, and recognizing expired Belarusian passports. The participants of the meeting also discussed progress in preparations for the issuance of the new Belarusian passport.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Swedish Migration Agency Announces New Passport Policy for Belarusians Amid Restrictions 

Mar 26, 2024

Stockholm, March 26, 2024 – In a landmark decision, the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) has released a legal statement addressing the plight of Belarusian citizens struggling to obtain passports due to restrictions imposed by the regime ruling their homeland. The document comes as a response to the decree issued by the illegitimate self-proclaimed ruler of Belarus on September 4, 2023, which effectively halted the issuance and renewal of passports by Belarusian foreign institutions.

The Agency's statement sheds light on the critical need for Belarusians, especially those residing abroad, to access alternative means of identification and travel documentation. The legal stance emphasizes the challenges faced by Belarusians who, as a result of the decree, find themselves unable to acquire new passports without returning to Belarus. The Agency pointedly stated, "Under the current conditions, Belarusians should not be encouraged to travel home to obtain passports. In practice, this means that Belarusian citizens abroad do not have the opportunity to obtain a document that acts as a passport."

This development significantly impacts the ability of Belarusians living abroad to apply for foreign passports, acknowledging that obtaining a valid passport document within a reasonable timeframe is now an impossibility for them.

As a direct consequence, the Swedish Migration Agency is poised to issue foreigner passports or alternative documents to those Belarusian citizens within Sweden who find themselves unable to obtain a passport due to these stringent restrictions. This move aims to ensure their eligibility to apply for a residence permit, with the Agency clarifying, "[...] in some cases, a foreigner may be granted a residence permit even in the absence of a passport if it is not possible to obtain a passport within a reasonable period (see section 2.1 and §§ 1 of the Aliens Act), either through the foreign representation of their country or through the authorities at home. Under the current conditions, it can be assumed that an applicant from Belarus who is abroad does not have the opportunity to obtain a passport within a reasonable period."

The issue of identification for Belarusians has been a focal point of discussions between Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the democratically elected leader of Belarus, and the People's Embassy of Belarus in Sweden, as they seek to navigate the challenges posed by the current regime's restrictive policies. This latest development from the Swedish Migration Agency marks a crucial step towards addressing the immediate needs of Belarusian citizens in Sweden, providing them with a semblance of security and mobility amidst ongoing reign of terror in their homeland. 

Source: People's Embassies of Belarus

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya met with Czech leadership

Mar 26, 2024

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s working visit to Prague featured several high-level meetings, including with the President of the Czech Republic, Petr Pavel. During the conversation, the Belarusian leader raised several important issues, including the situation with political prisoners, harsh prison conditions, and coordinated pressure on the regime.

In addition, the dialogue focused on ways to stop Belarus’ involvement in the war. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya specifically raised the issue of the European perspective for Belarus and called on the president to support it. At the end of the meeting, the Belarusian leader presented Petr Pavel with the Cross of Good Neighbourhood.

After the meeting, Ms. Tsikhanouskaya noted: “I am grateful to Czechia and the Czech President for their firm position in supporting Ukraine and free Belarus. The most important thing I wanted to convey is that the Belarus issue must not be postponed for later and Belarus must not become a consolation prize for Putin. The crisis in the region requires a comprehensive solution that includes Belarus. Democratic changes in our country are an investment in the security of Ukraine and the entire Europe”.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jan Lipavský, the President of the Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, and the Speaker of the Parliament, Markéta Pekarová Adamová.

⚪️ Ms. Tsikhanouskaya urged the foreign minister to consider ways to soften the visa ban, including by making exceptions for certain groups, including students and relatives of Belarusians in the Czech Republic.

🔴 The President of the Czech Senate and the Belarusian leader laid flowers at the graves of the leaders of the Belarusian Democratic Republic. After the ceremony, Ms. Tsikhanouskaya and the Czech side discussed broader recognition of the United Transitional Cabinet and ways to strengthen its legitimacy.

⚪️ Ms. Tsikhanouskaya discussed a support campaign for political prisoners with the Speaker of the Parliament. A conference on Belarusian political prisoners is being prepared, organized by the Office of Belarus Democratic Forces in the Czech Republic and Czech patrons.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

How can Europe help Belarusians?

Mar 21, 2024

Keynote points of Pavel Latushka, Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus

20 March 2024, Warsaw

Dear ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am pleased to welcome all the guests - the EU Member States Special Envoys for the Eastern Partnership, and especially Ambassador Dirk Schuebel for organizing the meeting and the opportunity to speak up. 

We are in the Free Belarus Museum - which not only collects artifacts of protest Belarus of 2020 and beyond, makes exhibitions of Belarusian artists, theater performances, but is also an open socio-political and discussion platform for the entire democratic community. The museum is one of the projects of the National Anti-Crisis Management team, which I represent here.

To show you the scale and permanence of repression, which operates like a conveyor belt, we have taken news about arrests, detentions and trials on political grounds over the last 10 days only. As you can see on the screen, all this happens in Belarus every day.

New information from Belarus this morning. Detentions, trials - and so on every day.

It's been 4 years since the beginning of the events of the summer of 2020 in Belarus. 2 years since the beginning of the war of Russia and Lukashenko's regime against Ukraine. 

In the context of world history, these years and events are only a moment. But for millions of Belarusians the events of the last years became the biggest and hardest test in their lives. And the longest. 

According to the human rights center "Dissidentby", as of today there are 1602 officially recognised political prisoners in Belarus. 1082 political prisoners have already served their terms.

As you can see, Lukashenko's regime puts new political prisoners in place of those released. 

At least five political prisoners have already died in prison: Vitold Ashurok, Ales Pushkin, Mikalai Klimovich, Vadzim Khrasko, Igorr Lednik. Torture, inhuman conditions, lack of medical care - this is what political prisoners face in Lukashenko's prisons. And they die. 

6 political prisoners are in incommunicado status. The leader of the Social Democrats Mikalai Statkevich has been in incommunicado status for more than 400 days. We know nothing about his fate. 

According to the report by the Centre for Law and Democracy Justice Hub, from May 2020 to May 2023 at least 136 thousand people became victims of crimes against humanity in Belarus. Illegal deprivation of liberty, torture, murder, rape and other serious forms of sexual violence, including against minors, enforced disappearances, deportations - this is what happens in Belarus. Every day. 

All independent mass media have been liquidated in Belarus. During these 3.5 years 1500 non-governmental organizations have been eliminated in Belarus, 950 are in the process of liquidation. All 11 political parties have been liquidated. We can state the almost complete destruction of civil society.

What is Lukashenko’s power based on

To date, Lukashenko has held on to power primarily thanks to the security forces and financial and economic support from the Russian Federation.

One of the important factors of the regime's financial sustainability is the use of opportunities to circumvent EU, US and other sanctions through Belarus in the interests of Russia.

Smuggling, corruption schemes, as well as actually legal income due to the lack of synchronization of sanctions against Russia and Lukashenko's regime. All this allows the dictator to earn quite a lot of money.

The electoral cycle has started in Belarus. 

First stage. On the 25th of February Lukashenko organized the appointment of deputies to the parliament.

We defined this day as a "day with no choice". There were only two candidates for one mandate in Lukashenko's parliament. The forecast of independent political analysts and journalists about whom Lukashenko would appoint to his parliament was 100% confirmed. We proceed from the fact that this institution can’t have international recognition and participate in international parliamentary organizations due to the fact that this body is not a body representing the Belarusian people.

Second stage of electoral cycle. On the 25-26 of April Minsk will host a session of the All-Belarusian People's Assembly, a constitutional body created by Lukashenko. This body will actually become higher than the parliament. It actually appoints deputies of various levels, judges, prosecutors, representatives of the power bloc, the government, Lukashenko's administration and non-governmental organizations fully controlled by the regime - 1200 members.

Lukashenko has created 4 parties, which are not political structures in the general sense of the word, and are fully incorporated into Lukashenko's totalitarian system.

The third stage after the establishment of the All-Belarusian People's Assembly will be the election of the President of Belarus, which can take place either in 2024 or 2025. The decision on the date of the election is in the exclusive competence of the dictator.

Today we can state that Belarus has a totalitarian system. 

Lukashenko is under Putin's considerable control and is in fact a puppet implementing policies in his interests. Lukashenko balances the issues of maintaining power inside Belarus, using tools to obtain economic resources from Russia and performing military-political and diplomatic tasks in the Kremlin's interests.

Democratic Forces of Belarus

We can state a unique situation that has developed among the democratic forces of Belarus. It is unique from the point of view of the history of modern Europe. We actually have three institutions that represent the interests of Belarusians abroad and carry out actions aimed at influencing the internal agenda in Belarus. 

The first institution is the President-Elect, and at the same time the head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus - Svetlana Tsikhanovskaya. 

The second institution is the United Transitional Cabinet as the executive body of the democratic forces, which I have the honor to represent today. 

The third institution is the Coordination Council.

Preservation, strengthening and development of these institutions is the general strategy of the democratic majority in Belarusian society today. We face the important task of organizing direct elections to the Coordination Council, which could take place between May and September 2024. 

At the same time, a number of new institutions with both socio-political, civic and human rights orientation have emerged in recent years. Among them we can single out the Office of Svietlana Tsikhanovskaya, NAM, organizations of former law enforcers of Belarus - Belpol and Baypol, workers' movement - Rabochy Rukh, Cyberpartisans and others.

Due to the impossibility to carry out professional activities on the territory of Belarus, a wide network of independent media has been created abroad, among which it is important to mention Belsat, Euroradio, Radio Racja, Nasha Niva, Malanka TV and others. Belarusan bloggers and relevant channels operate from abroad.

The non-governmental sector of Belarus in connection with relocation is also represented abroad, however, as well as the above-mentioned institutions, it continues to interact through confidential channels with Belarusians living inside the country. Here we can note the presence of dozens, if not hundreds, of non-governmental organizations.

Thus, we have a unique situation of actual preservation of institutions, non-governmental organizations, political structures and independent media, which work daily to change the situation in Belarus.

We are self-critical about our performance, but at the same time, the fact that we have managed to maintain consolidation and a certain degree of efficiency over three and a half years is important.

Strategy towards Belarus

Unfortunately, we have to admit that since 2020 there has been no clear understandable strategy of actions aimed at changing the situation in Belarus.

During this time Lukashenko:

As of today, we must state that the only country that has a clear systematic strategy of actions in relation to Belarus is the Russian Federation, which has set as its strategic goal the incorporation of the territory of Belarus into the Russian Federation. The so-called Union State of Belarus and Russia is used for this purpose.

If we see today the actions of Russia aimed at the military occupation of Ukraine, then at the same time we must state that Russia carries out actions of non-military occupation of Belarus. 

What is the strategy of the Russian Federation? Their strategy is to provide informational, ideological, cultural influence on the Belarusian society. At the same time, they marginalize Belarusian culture, Belarusian language in Belarus, strengthen the perception inside the country, among Belarusians, of unity with Russian society, rewrite history, etc. This is militarisation of society, identification of the European Union, the United States of America, and democratic values in general as common enemies. For this purpose, both informational propaganda tools and creation of pro-Russian non-governmental organizations on the territory of Belarus, bribery, corruption of state officials, introduction of persons connected with Russian special services into the system of national defense and security are used.

An important thesis that I would like to voice. We are fully aware that the responsibility for the future of Belarus as an independent, sovereign state, first of all, lies with the Belarusian people. And our goal is not to shift this responsibility to our partners, who are assisting us in this difficult period of struggle for our sovereignty and independence. However, without international support, without a mutual strategy of actions, the achievement of our goal will be longer in time and less realistic.

I don’t think that we have too high expectations of possible action from our partners. Rather, we are often faced with an underestimated desire to use the available arsenal to prosecute and hold the Lukashenko regime accountable for all the violations of international law and human rights that I have mentioned.

Main challenge and threats

Today Belarus is in the geopolitical context of the war initiated by Russia against Ukraine. It should be understood that territorially Belarus is surrounded by Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia and is in the center of geopolitical events. 

The “Belarus balcony” is of strategic importance for the interests of the Russian Federation and will certainly be further used by Russia in continuing the war against Ukraine and destabilizing the situation in the neighboring countries of Belarus. 

Is it possible to reach an agreement with Lukashenko? This is an unrealistic scenario. By his mentality, Lukashenko is a man connected with the Russian world and devoted to the interests of the Russian Federation. At the same time, he is a man who would like to retain a certain control over the territory of Belarus. And he will balance his relations with Putin only in the context related to obtaining more economic resources to preserve his power, gradually giving up a part of sovereignty in favor of the Russian Federation. Any steps in the direction of the West can mean only one thing - the desire to receive even more funds for loyalty to the Kremlin.

The key factor that can change the situation in Belarus is the Belarusian people, who need to regain their subjectivity in terms of influence on the internal and external policy of Belarus. 

The key factor and strategy of the democratic forces of Belarus is to support Ukraine and the victory of Ukraine over Russia as an aggressor country.

Russia is currently pursuing a strategy aimed at demotivating Western partners to provide financial, economic and other assistance to Ukraine. In my opinion, the West can apply a similar, somewhat mirror-like strategy towards Russia. The most powerful sanctions against Russia are the elimination of Lukashenko's regime in Belarus. Even destabilization of his regime will force Russia to invest more in supporting Lukashenko.

In 2020, the Belarusian people took to the streets in protest and declared their desire to live in a democratic state, in a common European home. At that time, we noted the highest possible degree of motivation of Belarusians to fight for their rights, for the European perspective.

For almost four years, the Belarusian people have been subjected to the most large-scale repressions, which led to human casualties and to the deportation of a huge number of Belarusians. And at the same time, there is a perception in the Belarusian society that the partners are not interested in supporting the Belarusian people. I do not say this on my own behalf, I bring this thesis based on the information that we receive from inside Belarus, from the active part of the Belarusian society.

Belarusians often feel frustration because in response to the struggle for their freedom, for democracy, for supporting Ukraine, Belarusians have lost their lives. Many Belarusians have been killed, have been repressed, and are in prisons on sentences of more than 20 years of imprisonment. But there is no appropriate reaction against those persons who are guilty of committing these crimes. 

Therefore, it seems crucial to implement the following strategy of actions and concrete steps:

First. It is important for us to identify among the member states of the European Union the partner countries at the level of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Justice, which would be ready together with us to carry out targeted legal actions to transfer the materials on crimes against humanity for consideration in the International Criminal Court in the context of deportation of at least 100 thousand Belarusians to the territory of the member states of the European Union.

According to the lawyers of the National Anti-Crisis Management, this approach is the most realistic in terms of raising the question of bringing Lukashenko to justice for the international crimes committed. This is an instrument of justice, influence on the presidential election, on the split of elites in the future. 

Second. Ukraine's support in initiating an arrest warrant against Lukashenko for war crimes related to the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children to the territory of Belarus and their indoctrination is important to us. According to the National Anti-Crisis Management, our team, at least 3,000 Ukrainian children from 20 settlements were taken to the territory of Belarus between September 2022 and May 2023. We submitted two communications to the ICC in The Hague. 

The question of Lukashenko's responsibility for the war is of strategic importance. For today Lukashenko sells the thesis about his non-involvement in the aggression to the Belarusian society. And this is another strategic informational mistake. The international attention is not focused on Lukashenko's responsibility for the aggression, for the victims that the Ukrainian people bear. This leads to the perception among Belarusians that Lukashenka is not guilty of anything, is not involved in the aggression, and, on the contrary, does everything to establish peace.

The third element of the strategy. We need a program of support for independent media. Recently, we have noted a decrease in financial support for the independent media in Belarus. 

The fourth element of the strategy is to support the national identity of Belarusians, to support Belarusian culture in emigration, to create centers of Belarusian culture and education - the Belarusian National University, the National Theatre, other cultural institutions for preserving the national culture, its subsequent relocation to Belarus, and through these institutions to spread informational and cultural influence on Belarusian society inside the country.

The fifth element of the strategy. The Lukashenko regime has taken actions aimed at reducing the possibilities of the consular services of the European Union on the territory of Belarus; we are fully aware of this. At the same time, it seems important to jointly work out approaches that would allow more opportunities for Belarusians to visit the European Union, to obtain multiple-entry and Schengen visas. Greater openness of the European Union for the Belarusian society will contribute to the formation of a positive image of the EU among Belarusans.

The sixth factor of the strategy is the key one - the Belarusian people.

Closure of border crossings 

We are fully aware of the importance of ensuring the national security of Belarus’ neighboring states and understand the logic aimed at increasing control over Belarusian citizens entering the territory of these countries. At the same time, Belarusians perceive these actions as directed against them, not against Lukashenko's regime. Since, as I said above, there is no international responsibility, no large-scale sanctions are imposed, and this leads to the perception of Belarusians that it is the citizens of Belarus, and not the dictator, who are responsible for what happens in the country.

As a politician, I absolutely support all the actions of our partners aimed at strengthening national security and defense. The acquisition of F-16 aircrafts, leopards and other military weapons is certainly necessary and important. At the same time, I think it is important for us to realize that the main weapon is the people. The Belarusian people, who in 2020 opposed the dictator, who in 2022 opposed aggression against Ukraine. The Belarusian people, who are subjected to repressions on a daily basis, are our main weapon in the situation if the Putin regime and Lukashenko decide to reuse the territory of Belarus for aggression against Ukraine or one of the EU member states. And motivation is very important here. I think none of us would like to see a Belarusian soldier on the border with the European Union in a few years, who is ready to enter the territory of the EU. Therefore, purposeful actions to support Belarusians, exactly actions, are very important today.

I thank sincerely all our partners, the foreign ministries of the EU member states for their principled position in supporting our struggle for freedom.

The Eastern Partnership is an initiative that undoubtedly contributes to stimulating the European choice of Belarusians. But in order to bring this choice closer, it is very important for us to motivate Belarusians. The actions I mentioned above are only a part of a possible strategy. For us, of course, it would be a very serious step if the democratic forces of Belarus were given a place in the Eastern Partnership. It is difficult, but it is a very important political decision. We are ready to take this place, we are ready to intensify our cooperation within the framework of the Eastern Partnership.

It is also important for us to feel and understand that without civil society and democratic forces of Belarus today the issues of the future of Belarus cannot be solved.

We're stronger together.

Source: NAM

Anatoli Liabedzka commented on conference on New Belarus Constitution: “We are creating a stable legal framework for the new Belarus”

Mar 16, 2024

On March 15, when Constitution Day is celebrated in Belarus, the Lithuanian Seimas hosted a conference titled “Investments in the Long-term Future of Democratic Belarus: Key Reform Strategies”. In the video address, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Advisor for Constitutional Reform and Interparliamentary Cooperation, Anatoli Liabedzka, comments on the conference and its results:

“During the conference, we presented six draft laws to complement and develop the Constitution. After their elaboration, the documents will be handed over to the United Transitional Cabinet, and after the election – to the Coordination Council of the new convocation. In this way, we are creating a stable legal framework for the new Belarus, so that after the democratic transition of power, the new government can carry out political reforms as soon as possible”, notes Anatoli Liabedzka.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

European Parliament members signed more than 600 postcards for Belarusian political prisoners

Mar 13, 2024

On March 11-14, the European Parliament is holding a solidarity campaign with Belarusian political prisoners. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Advisor on Parliamentary Cooperation and Constitutional Reform, Anatoli Liabedzka, was present during the solidarity action on March 13. The politician reported that within the framework of the #EPSTANDSBYYOU initiative, MEPs, including the EP President, Roberta Metsola, have already signed more than 600 postcards for Belarusian political prisoners. In addition, MEPs raise awareness of the dire situation with political prisoners in Belarus and share information about it on social media with the hashtag #EPSTANDSBYYOU.

This is the second campaign of the initiative. The first one was held in December 2022.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “The new launch of this initiative is the result of my recent meeting with Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Parliament. I am grateful to Roberta and the members of the European Parliament for supporting this idea. I am convinced that #EPSTANDSBYYOU will encourage politicians all over Europe to join the fight for the freedom of Belarusian political prisoners!”

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Court of Appeal in Serbia overturned verdict to extradite Andrei Hniot

Mar 12, 2024

Today, the Court of Appeal in Belgrade overturned the earlier decision on the extradition of filmmaker and activist Andrei Hniot to Belarus and sent the case for a new hearing to the High Administrative Court in Belgrade. In overturning the earlier decision, the court of appeal noted that not all the circumstances of the case had been properly considered. It also found a violation of Andrei Hniot and his defense’s right to appear before the court and give testimonies in person. The next hearing of the case in the court of first instance is scheduled for March 26.

Together with the annulment of the decision of the court of first instance, the court extended Andrei’s detention for another 60 days. This does not mean that he will spend the whole term in prison: in case of a decision in favor of Andrei, he will be released from custody.

Given that the Interpol Central Bureau has blocked access to Andrei’s profile, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Advisor on Legal Affairs, Kristina Rikhter, hopes for a positive outcome: “I am very grateful to the diplomatic corps of the European Union countries in Belgrade. The ambassadors of several countries responded very quickly to our lawyers’ request for assistance – and organized both negotiations at the diplomatic level and attendance at the appeal court hearing, thus expressing their solidarity with Andrei”.

The Office’s Legal Department will continue to closely follow the fate of Andrei’s case and will be in constant communication with lawyers and the diplomatic corps.

We urge Belarusians to support Andrei with letters of support. The address is: Andrei Hniot, Centralni zatvor, Bačvanska 14, 11050 Beograd (Voždovac).

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Simplification of migration, support for Council of Europe’s document on Belarus: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya met with leadership of Croatia

Mar 07, 2024

During the European People’s Party Congress, the Belarusian leader met with the Prime Minister of Croatia, Andrej Plenković, as well as the Minister of the Interior, Davor Božinović. Ms. Tsikhanouskaya expressed gratitude to Croatia for supporting the Council of Europe’s recent document on Belarus, which calls for issuing more visas to Belarusians and resolving the legalization of stay problems.

The Belarusian leader asked the politicians to simplify the legalization of stay for Belarusians in Croatia, including issuing alien passports, recognizing expired Belarusian passports as valid, and lifting the apostille requirement.

The parties discussed the situation with political prisoners in Belarus. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke about prisoners held incommunicado by the regime and called for efforts to secure their immediate release through international organizations. Additionally, she proposed that Croatia support a rehabilitation program for the children of the repressed and facilitate events involving the Belarusian diaspora.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

“It is our moral obligation to fight for political prisoners”

Mar 06, 2024

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya gave speech at the meeting of the EPP Young Members Network in Bucharest, Romania:

“Dear EPP friends,

Thank you, dear Roberta and dear Eva for your strong words, for your bravery, and for everything you do for Belarus and Ukraine.

I will never stop repeating how much I admire women-leaders like you. If Lukashenka was in this room, he would probably have a heart attack.

In his obsolete world view, the place for a woman is in the kitchen to cook borshch, but not in politics.

When in 2020 I ran for president instead of my imprisoned husband, the dictator registered me as a joke. “No one will vote for a woman”, he said. But I won. We won.

But like a classic coward, Lukashenka refused to step down. Instead, he unleashed terror against his own people. Our beautiful peaceful protest was drowned in blood, in tears, in pain.

Lukashenka often repeats: “I don’t fight with women”. However, this is exactly what he does.

And it is not only women. Among 1500 political prisoners almost half are young people. They are activists and volunteers, entrepreneurs and journalists, paramedics and young engineers.

The regime also attacks students. One of them was at the student desk, when four KGB thugs in masks broke into an Economics lecture.

They slammed his face onto the floor, and broke his fingers. And the only reason for their brutality were 8 anti-war comments he posted on Youtube.

Some of political prisoners were just 16 when they landed in Lukashenka’s jails. Some already celebrated their third birthday behind bars, and missed their school graduation party.

Some tried to kill themselves, when they got their draconian sentences of 5, 8 or 12 years. One couldn’t no longer bear such torment and tried to cut his throat…with a pen – the only personal item he was allowed to have. It is sickening.

In very rare letters home, political prisoners write that they don’t have dreams about freedom anymore. Their dreams are about food, just normal food.

Another one, Stsiapan Latypau, is dying from scurvy – the disease when your body severely lacks vitamin C.

Some others already lost hope of release, and are ready to end up like Alexei Navalny.

In prisons, political prisoners are forced to bear a yellow label, which means they are political and subject to harsher treatment. Sometimes you can be beaten and tortured.

Many including my husband are being held incommunicado, in full isolation, in punishment cells. This is the worst form of torture.

The only information political prisoners receive is from propaganda newspapers. It takes some time to learn how to read between the lines, to understand what’s really going on.

The regime is doing everything possible to make them feel abandoned.

It forces their relatives to publicly denounce children, sisters, and brothers as enemies of the state.

We read it in books about Stalin times, but we never believed it would be possible in the 21-st century.

Lawyers who are the only contact for political prisoners with the outside world, are often repressed too.

Those who send parcels or letters to political prisoners, got detained. The very solidarity is criminalized.

Political prisoners are having their own fight. And the goal of this fight is simple — at the very least to survive.

And our moral obligation is to fight for them. I know that they count on us. And they count on you.

First of all, we should make their release our priority and our commitment. Obviously, we don’t have a key to prisons. But we have other tools. For almost two years, no strong sanctions were imposed for repressions, torture, and political prisoners.

If the regime knows that for every death, for every illegal detention, it will be taken into account – the situation could be very different. Help us to advocate for stronger sanctions against the regime, and for opening investigation of its crimes.

And second, I ask you to highlight the stories of political prisoners, especially young people, so their fight is not forgotten. Swiss-German NGO Libereco has launched the campaign of “adopting” political prisoners. Already, more than 400 parliamentarians from all over the world became “godparents”.

Some EPP leaders did it as well. Roberta Metsola became a godmother for Palina Sharenda Panasiuk, and Radek Sikorski became a “godparent” for my husband Siarhei Tsikhanouski.

I ask you to join this campaign as well. We brought brochures for you, where you can read how to do it. It will take five minutes of your time, but for people behind bars – it might save their life.

You can tweet about them, write an article, call their family or send a letter to prison. Every gesture of solidarity matters.

Dear friends,

I know that it is not the most optimistic speech you heard today.

But it is rooted in reality, in the truth of what is happening in Belarus right now.

It is important that we do not turn away from these hard truths, but rather face them head-on with determination and hope.

Remember, our struggle is not just a Belarusian struggle; it is a struggle for democracy, for human rights, for the very essence of what Europe stands for.

As you enter the electoral campaign for the European Parliament, I call on you to become champions of democracy.

To be advocates of all those who risk their lives and their freedom in the name of values we all here stand for.

Include Ukraine and Belarus in your election program. Because the fight for freedom is a global one.

Provide Ukraine with everything it needs. The victory of Ukraine will be the ultimate defeat of Putin and Lukashenka.

And stand with those who fight for free Belarus. Changes in Belarus will bring Ukraine’s victory faster, and will become a huge blow to Putin.

I encourage you to include Belarusian activists and political parties in the work of EPP, YEPP and Young Members network. One day, Belarus will become a part of the European Union, and we can prepare for this day already now.

In the end, let me invite you to join the international Day of Solidarity with Belarus, on March 25. This is our national holiday when we traditionally celebrate our freedom and independence.

I am confident, that one day, we will be celebrating it together with you, in Minsk and other Belarusian cities, without fear but with pride.

Thank you for your attention, your compassion, and your support.”

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Restoring relations between Belarus and Bulgaria

Mar 05, 2024

During her working visit to Sofia, the Belarusian leader met with the Prime Minister of Bulgaria. Nikolai Denkov expressed hope for close cooperation between the country and the democratic forces of Belarus.

With her visit, Ms. Tsikhanouskaya aims to restore the relations that have been destroyed by the Lukashenka regime. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya invited Bulgaria to join the group “For a Democratic Belarus” in the OSCE, as well as support the work of the Contact Group in the Council of Europe.

The dialogue focused on the Russian threat to the independence of Belarus and the regime’s involvement in the war. The parties also discussed ways to hold the regime accountable. Ms. Tsikhanouskaya mentioned the evidence of its crimes gathered by the National Anti-Crisis Management that was submitted to the UN last week.

The Belarusian leader emphasized the issue of political prisoners and called for urgent steps to secure their release, especially of those with serious health issues and those held incommunicado.

The parties also discussed pressure on the regime and ways to make it more effective without isolating Belarusians. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called for continued issuance of visas and support for those fleeing repression. In addition, the leader spoke about the new Belarusian passport project and expressed hope for Bulgaria’s support.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

“Despite the terror, Belarusians continue to resist”

Mar 05, 2024

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke at the meeting with European Affairs Committee in Sofia, Bulgaria:

“Dear Mr. Kiril Petkov,

Dear members of the European Affairs Committee,

Dear excellencies, dear friends of freedom,

It is an honor and privilege to address you today. And I know that I am among friends. Your support, your solidarity, your consistency are really inspiring. 

It’s my second day here, in Bulgaria, but I already feel how close our nations are. Bulgarians like Belarusians know very well what it is like to live in the shadow of the Empire. 

You survived the dark times of Fascist and Communist dictatorships. You survived centuries of Ottoman yoke. You know the price of freedom, how easy to lose it, and how difficult it is to get it back. 

For many people in the western democracies, it is hard to understand. For many, democracy is like air. Only when it is not there, you start to suffocate.

Two days ago, you celebrated Liberation Day. I am also proud that Belarusians contributed to Bulgarian freedom. One of those who liberated Sofia was General Gurko, Belarusian nobleman and officer who fought in Russian Army back then. 

Another Belarusian freedom fighter fighting for Bulgaria was Nikolai Sudzilouski, known by his nickname Николас Руссель. Born in Belarus, this outstanding doctor, ethnographer, linguist, and writer fell in love with Bulgaria. 

And he was one of the organizers of the April uprising against the Ottoman Empire. And now his name, like Gurka’s, became one of the symbols of Bulgarian-Belarusian friendship.

We have many things to learn about each other. And I think my visit here to Sofia will help to restore the relationship between Belarusians and Bulgarians that was destroyed by the regime in Minsk.

Unfortunately, the situation in Belarus doesn’t become better. Political parties, media, and civil society initiatives have been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands had to flee the country because of repressions. This is how Lukashenka takes revenge on people who dared to demand free elections. 

Thousands are still held as political prisoners under the most inhumane conditions. One of them is my husband. My children have not seen their daddy for four years already. For one year, he is held incommunicado, and I don’t know if he is alive. 

Despite the terror, Belarusians continue to resist. You can’t see big rallies anymore, but the protest went underground. We see the small acts of sabotage, of resistance. And most important – people did not give up. 

After the regime dragged our country into the criminal war against Ukraine, it became evident that Lukashenka doesn’t represent Belarus anymore. He is selling our country to Putin, piece by piece, in exchange for political support.

Therefore, it’s so crucial right now to isolate the regime, politically, economically through sanctions – through all available means. However, isolating the regime we should not isolate the people. 

We should distinguish the regime from the people: it’s the regime who became Putin’s accomplice. Meanwhile, Belarusian people are fighting for democracy and freedom, and supporting Ukraine. 

For us, the victory of Ukraine will be also our victory. But also vice versa, changes in Belarus can help Ukraine to win faster. Our fates are interconnected.

Dear friends,

One of the parliamentarians, whom I met today, told me: We, Bulgarians, are not just saying something, we are doing. 

So, one of the practical results of this visit would be the creation of the group for free Belarus in the Bulgarian parliament. I invite you to join this group, it would be a strong message of solidarity and support, but also an important instrument to strengthen the cooperation between Bulgaria and free Belarus. 

Also, I encourage you to organize a hearing on the situation in Belarus in Parliamentary committees. Your statements, your resolutions are also important. 

I ask you to pay particular attention to the situation with human rights abuses, political prisoners, involvement of Lukashenka’s regime in the war, and deployment of nuclear weapons on our territory. 

Currently we campaign for a European perspective for Belarus. Belarusians want to hear that in the future, after the regime collapses, we will be able to join the EU and Council of Europe. For us, the European Union is the best and the only alternative to the “Russian world”. 

I also ask you to join our campaign of godparenthood over political prisoners. More than 400 parliamentarians from different countries around the world, “adopted” our journalists, activists, and teachers behind bars. You can pick any political prisoners, and tell their stories – to people in Bulgaria and around the world.

Also consider inviting Belarusians to have short-term internships in your offices, and particularly, in your committee. We need to prepare the future elite, and we can learn democratic processes from you.

And finally, I invite you to pay a visit to Vilnius or Warsaw, to meet former political prisoners, our partisans, military volunteers fighting for Ukraine – to understand our situation, but also to highlight it in your media. 

Dear friends,

Let me express my deepest gratitude for your time and attention. I know that changes in Belarus will need time. But with your help, I am sure, we will be able to succeed. And Belarus will find its rightful place in the European family, as a free and democratic nation.

Thank you.”

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

People's Embassies of Belarus have been labeled as an "extremist formation" by the regime  

Mar 04, 2024

The decision, based on KGB's February 28, 2024, No. 4/3-519 resolution, prohibits our activities in the Republic of Belarus. 

Despite embassies being essential for assisting Belarusians abroad, it seems Lukashenko's enforcers are unaware. In the country's new law landscape, not only creating and leading but also being a member of an extremist formation carries legal consequences. 

Under Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code, subscribers to channels can be criminally liable if proven to be involved in extremist activities. Those sharing information may face charges for 'assisting an extremist formation' (Article 361-4) or "financing extremist activities" (Article 361-2).

For those in Belarus, we would recommend unsubscribing from our Telegram channel and avoiding the website. 

We'll persist in our efforts for the benefit of Belarusian women and men! 

Long live Belarus! 

Source: People's Embassies of Belarus

Director Andrei Gnet is under threat of extradition to Belarus

Mar 02, 2024

It became known about the detention in Serbia of music video and advertising director, journalist and one of the founders of the Free Association of Athletes SOS BY Andrei Gnet. He faces extradition to Belarus.

Last October, Andrei Gnet flew to Serbia for work from Thailand, where he lived until recently. He was detained right at the airport. The reason was a request from Belarus to Interpol. The Lukashenko regime accuses Gniet of tax evasion in the amount of 300 thousand euros. The activist has been in a Serbian prison for four months. The conditions there, by the way, are quite harsh. Andrei Gnet complained about the lack of medical care, deteriorating vision, hair loss, and that he was not given access to the prison library. 

On February 19, a meeting of the appeal court was held, at which Andrei Gnet expressed confidence in the political nature of his case and the intentions of the Lukashenko regime to prosecute him for his public activities. Gniet noted that he left Belarus in 2021 because of the interest of security forces in him as one of the creators of the free association of athletes SOS BY.

This organization is recognized as extremist in Belarus. It was created in 2020 and united Belarusian athletes who spoke out against violence and election fraud. In addition, SOS BY contributed to the cancellation of the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk and the suspension of funding for the National Olympic Committee of Belarus.

“Deadly torture awaits me in Belarus. There is no law in Belarus, no protection, no independent judiciary. Everyone who opposes the authorities is imprisoned, tortured and humiliated,” said Andrei Gnet.

The activist's lawyers informed the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg about the essence of the case. The decision of the Serbian court regarding the extradition of Andrei Gnet to the Lukashenko regime should be expected in 20-30 days. Until then, the activist will remain in a Serbian prison.

Friends, please take care of your safety. If you are in Belarus, do not forget to clean your account on Telegram and other social networks. If you left Belarus due to political persecution or the threat of it, do not come to potentially dangerous countries that could hand you over to the current Belarusian authorities. 

Source: A country to live in

“When democratic changes happen in my country, EU countries will emerge as our primary trade partners”

Mar 01, 2024

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya gave speech during the first Belarusian Business Forum in Washington DC:

“Dear organizers and participants of the Belarusian Business Forum in Washington DC, 

Dear Friends!

My congratulations with this historic event, such a large Belarusian business event in the US. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to representatives of the Commercial Law Development Program of the U.S. Department of Commerce for their invaluable assistance in organizing this event, as well as the Association of Belarusian Business Abroad for their dedication in bringing this meeting to fruition. 

Belarus today is becoming more and more economically dependent on Russia. The share of trade between Belarus and Russia has been growing by double digits yearly since 2021. Russian investors and their proxies are now the key investors in the Belarusian economy. Russia has become the only foreign lender for the Belarusian regime. And this is NOT how it should be. This is NOT how we see the future of Belarus. My team and I, along with millions of Belarusians, are determined to change this reality! 

I have a very clear vision that Belarus will always be a part of the global economy, not Russia’s economy. When democratic changes happen in my country, European Union countries will emerge as our primary trade partners. We will actively pursue free-trade agreements with both the EU and the USA, creating one of the most attractive business climates globally. 

The Belarusian economy will thrive on the foundation of a robust and innovative private sector, contributing to the establishment of a strong middle class. Many talented Belarusians will return home as business managers, private investors, and entrepreneurs. In the new Belarus, every businessperson will be valued and respected, not only for their contributions to prosperity but also for safeguarding us against dictatorship.

Since August 2020, over three hundred thousand Belarusians have been compelled to leave the country, with many forced to relocate their businesses or start anew from scratch. For most, leaving was not a choice but a necessity to avoid imprisonment. These individuals demonstrated remarkable courage by participating in the protests in Belarus in 2020, and they continue to exhibit bravery in exile as they strive to sustain their businesses. 

Belarusian business outside the country has already happened as an institution. We have many thousands of registered businesses with Belarusian shareholders around the world, including the USA. We have well known big IT companies of Belarusian origin, they are present at the world leading stock exchanges. We have many small and micro companies that daily run their business, pay taxes, and create jobs. We have numerous start-ups of talented future Belarusian businessmen and businesswomen. We have ABBA that unites over 100 reputable businesses from 10 countries, fostering collaboration and growth. 

We need to stay united. Your voice – the voice of the Belarusian businesspeople – is much stronger if you keep together. Today you will help each other in solving current business problems, advocate your needs and protect your rights; tomorrow you will be a stakeholder of the future political and economic reforms in Belarus. Together we will develop a business repatriation plan to make sure you do not forget your Motherhood and invest in a new free and prosperous Belarus. 

The USA is an important destination country for our business for both investment and trade. Here today you’ll have a chance to meet, discuss your problems, and exchange your visions. I call for the US authorities to continue hosting Belarusian businessmen and businesswomen, and they are not only job-takers, but also job-creators. I am happy there is an Assistance Roadmap between the Commercial Law Development Program of the Department of Commerce and the Association of Belarusian Business Abroad. Together with the US Strategic Dialogue with democratic Belarus this should become a solid foundation for close cooperation between democratic Belarus and the USA.

I wish this forum to bring tangible results both for our business community abroad and the wider diaspora. I am very glad that the partners of the forum are well known Belarusian diaspora organizations: Association of Belarusians in America and Belarusian-American Association.

I am proud of Belarusian business. And I will do my best to make them feel proud to be Belarusian business all around the world. 

Good luck to you. Let’s build a new Belarus together.”

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya supported fundraiser to buy drones for Belarusian volunteer fighters in Ukraine 

Feb 28, 2024

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “At my previous meeting with the Kastus Kalinouski Regiment, I was informed that the regiment’s UAV air reconnaissance group named after Mikita Kryutsou has completed training for operating FPV drones. And now the regiment has launched a fundraiser to purchase them. At the moment, only half of the needed amount has been raised, so our help is essential.

Every donation we make, which goes towards providing fighters with gear, equipment, and especially drones, helps them save their lives. And that allows the fighters to do everything they can to bring peace to both Ukraine and Belarus and end the dictatorships, aggression, and violence.

My dear friends, if it is safe for you, please support this fundraiser. I know that Belarusian solidarity has no limits. Together, we can reach the fundraiser’s goal and help our fighters”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addressed ambassadors from 27 countries in Bern

Feb 28, 2024

The Belarusian leader held a briefing at the Polish Embassy in Bern for ambassadors from the EU countries, Ukraine, Canada, the United States, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

In her speech, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya urged the ambassadors to support the resolution on Belarus at the UN Human Rights Council, which will be considered in the spring, increase pressure on the regime, as well as demand the release of political prisoners.

The leader also called for continuing the two UN mechanisms invoked in relation to Belarus and supporting the implementation of Article 33 in the International Labour Organization, which was invoked against the Lukashenka regime last year.

Ms. Tsikhanouskaya’s speech also focused on cooperation with Belarus’ democratic forces. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called for the appointment of special envoys for Belarus, as France, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, and Ukraine have already done and the United States will do soon. The leader also thanked the countries that have already made statements of non-recognition of the regime’s sham election.

The discussion that followed the briefing centered around mechanisms for holding the regime accountable for its crimes, including through universal jurisdiction. The leader emphasized the importance of assistance to the repressed, independent Belarusian media, and human rights defenders.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Lukashenko regime's cooperation with the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine

Feb 27, 2024

The Lukashenko regime, fearing new sanctions, does not always want to advertise its cooperation with the administration of the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, as well as the development of all kinds of ties and contacts with them: economic, informational and ideological, political and others.

Such ties and contacts began even before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops on 24 February 2022. Trade between Belarus and the occupied territories of Ukraine took place in an unlawful format at the level of separate legal entities with the mediation of Russian companies.

After February 2022, the Lukashenko regime's contacts with the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine became more intensive and reached the official political level.

For example, on 18 April 2023, Lukashenko held a meeting with the so-called "acting head of the DPR" Denis Pushilin as a person in the status of the head of a constituent entity of the Russian Federation, during which he offered assistance in the restoration and development of this Russian-occupied territory.

In addition to cooperation with the "LPR" and "DPR", the illegitimate authorities of Belarus are developing official relations with occupied Crimea. In early March 2023, the leadership of the Vitebsk Regional Executive Committee and the Crimean authorities signed an agreement on trade and economic cooperation. The head of the occupation administration of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, and the chairman of the Vitebsk regional executive committee, Alexander Subbotin, agreed to strengthen relations between the regions and outlined the prospects for joint work. Aksyonov then stressed that "Belarusian enterprises are always welcome on the Crimean land. 

In addition, the illegitimate authorities of Belarus decided to open the Consulate General of the Republic of Belarus in Rostov-on-Don no later than 1 July 2024. This consular district will include the regions of Ukraine occupied by Russia.

Source: NAM

“Parody of an election”: democratic countries’ reaction to the regime’s sham election

Feb 26, 2024

The so-called “single voting day” took place in Belarus on February 25. Propaganda attempted to show an unprecedented turnout and assure compliance with all electoral procedures. However, it failed to deceive the people who know what democracy is. Look at how representatives of democratic countries reacted to the sham elections.

Austrian MFA: “Today’s parliamentary and local elections in Belarus are neither free nor fair. We will continue to work for a free, independent and prosperous Belarus”.

Ukraine: “Our group “For a Democratic Belarus” urges the international community not to recognize their legitimacy and to use all available tools to get Lukashenka behind bars and out of the presidential palace!”

United States: “The United States condemns the Lukashenka regime’s sham parliamentary and local elections that concluded today in Belarus. The elections were held in a climate of fear under which no electoral processes could be called democratic”.

German MFA: “We strongly condemn the systemic repression surrounding the elections in Belarus. The Lukashenka regime employs all available means to suppress the democratic aspirations of the people of Belarus. It has witnessed their strength – and this strength continues to scare the regime”.

France: “The Lukashenka regime is organizing a parody of a legislative election this Sunday: without opposition and without international observers. We ask the MFA not to recognize the result of these elections and to maintain our support for the opposition”.

NATO PA President: “The sham elections in Belarus don’t fool anyone: they are meaningless. Our governments and parliaments must continue to denounce the regime’s repression, support Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s struggle for a democratic Belarus, and call for the release of political prisoners”.

Norwegian MFA: “The sham elections in Belarus yesterday represent a further deterioration of democratic principles and fundamental freedoms, in violation of 

OSCE commitments. We condemn the systemic repressions in Belarus and support the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people”.

PACE President: “These “elections” are a travesty of democracy and lack any democratic legitimacy”.

Chairman of Czech Foreign Affairs Committee: “I still remember, as an election observer within the OSCE mission, one “election” where everything was counted, written down, and then the head of the election commission took out a piece of paper with numbers from his shirt pocket, read them, and that was the final result”.

High Representative on parliamentary and local elections: “It is clear that conditions for free and fair elections were not met and new parliamentary and local officials lack democratic legitimacy. The EU continues to support the democratic right of the Belarusian people to elect their representatives through genuine, democratic and transparent elections”.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Gift to Lukashenko on 23 February

Feb 26, 2024

All those mentioned in the NAM communication to the ICC as persons involved in the illegal transfer of children from the occupied territories of Ukraine to Belarus have been placed on the EU and US sanctions lists

Today the European Union published a 13th package of sanctions against Russia. The EU sanctions include the NGO "Dolphins," Aleksei Talai Foundation, as well as the leaders of these organisations - Olga Volkova and Aleksei Talai, and Dmitri Shevtsov - general secretary of the Belarusian Red Cross Society, as well as Dmitri Demidov - chairman of Navapolatsk City Executive Committee. Recall that in June 2022, Belaruskali CEO Ivan Golovatii fell under the EU sanctions.

Aleksei Talai, as well as State Secretary of the Union State of Belarus and Russia Dmitri Mezentsev, is now also under U.S. sanctions. The imposition of sanctions actually fixes the unlawfulness of the transfer of children from the occupied territories of Ukraine to Belarus, while we, in turn, continue to seek an ICC warrant. Lukashenko is not on this sanctions list only because something more is being prepared for him.

The EU has also adopted blocking restrictions against Lukashenko's military-industrial complex: JSC Peleng, JSC "2566 plant for repair of radio-electronic weapons" and director of this enterprise Valery Shatilo, JSC "Orsha Aircraft Repair Plant" and director of this plant Pavel Sluchak are under sanctions. Earlier, we sent our European partners proposals on a number of Belarusian military-industrial complex enterprises, which work for the needs of the Russian army, with justifications for imposing restrictions. Among them, for example, was Orsha Aircraft Repair Plant, which is now included in the 13 EU sanctions package against Russia, as well as 558 Aircraft Repair Plant in Baranavichy, which, like its director Pavel Pinigin, is now under U.S. sanctions.

Unfortunately, these sanctions do not include a complete ban or restriction on the transit of sanctioned goods through Belarus and Russia, nor do they include significant financial and sectoral sanctions, which are the most effective among other sanctions instruments.

Thus, we have repeatedly informed our European partners about the need to harmonize trade sanctions against Russia and the Lukashenko regime, as the difference in these restrictions allows both regimes, both in Minsk and Moscow, to successfully evade the adopted sanctions measures. Lukashenko's regime is 12 times less restricted than Russia's, making it a huge window for the Kremlin to evade sanctions. We gave examples of such evasion in our mini-investigation "What do EU statistics reveal or what is the purpose of sanctions harmonization?".

Another problem is "false" transit. For example, in 2022-2023, goods worth more than 10 billion euros passed through Belarus to Russia. Examples of "false" transit to Russia with the help of intermediaries from Belarus and Kazakhstan were uncovered in a joint investigation by "The Bureau", "Verstka" and the international Centre for Corruption and Organised Crime Research (OCCRP).

In order to stop circumventing sanctions through third countries, transit through Belarus and Russia to third countries should be either completely stopped (at least for critical goods for the military-industrial complex) or restricted through trade quotas.

Source: NAM

Special envoys for Belarus gathered for common meeting in Vilnius

Feb 24, 2024

A large meeting of special envoys and diplomats responsible for issues related to Belarus took place at Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Office in Vilnius.

Representatives from more than 15 countries gathered there, including Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Ukraine’s Ambassador-at-Large for Belarus, Ihor Kyzym, also attended the meeting.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya delivered a speech to launch the meeting. Here are the highlights of her address:

📌 “There are many problems in Belarus. The biggest one is that people are dying in prisons. And we don’t have a simple solution for how to release them. The level of repression is so high that our scope for action inside the country is very limited”.

📌 “The Lukashenka propaganda tries to convince people that they are abandoned and that nobody wants to see us in Europe. I hope that in your communication, you will emphasize that democratic Belarus deserves to be part of the European family”.

📌 “We are trying to meet the practical needs of Belarusians in exile. Firstly, we advocate for more visas. Secondly, we request recognition of expired passports, issuance of alien passports, and simplified procedures for residency”.

The politicians also discussed ways to hold the regime accountable and support civil society and the media.

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Political prisoner Ihar Lednik died in imprisonment

Feb 21, 2024

According to Viasna, another political prisoner and a civil activist Ihar Lednik died at the age of 64. Despite having a second-degree disability due to heart problems, the political prisoner was still sentenced to imprisonment.

In the colony, Ihar Lednik’s health deteriorated significantly, and he underwent gastrointestinal surgery. The political prisoner’s cause of death was cardiac arrest. Doctors tried to resuscitate him, but to no avail.

He was sentenced to three years of imprisonment for “slandering Lukashenko” for writing an article in Pazicyja, a magazine of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (BSDP). According to the case file, the article contained “deliberately false information discrediting and degrading the honor and dignity of Lukashenko, combined with accusations of particularly serious crimes, against the security of mankind among others.”

This is the fifth death of a political prisoner behind bars in Belarus.

Source: Voice of Belarus

Belarus is high on the EU agenda

Feb 20, 2024

On 19 February, the European Council adopted its conclusions on Belarus. These conclusions identify specific issues of concern to the EU and define actions or targets to be taken. In fact, this document defines the strategy of the European Union towards our country.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, commenting on the adoption of these conclusions, said that "Belarus remains high on the EU agenda". He condemned the unprecedented repression and emphasized that those responsible would be brought to justice.

It is important to note that the repressive policy of the Lukashenko regime is primarily characterized by the widespread commission of crimes that qualify as crimes against humanity. According to the commentary of the UN International Law Commission, such crimes are a threat to international peace and security, which obliges the entire international community to take adequate measures to prevent these crimes.

In the adopted document, the European Council expressed concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus. Moreover, the European Council reaffirmed its commitment to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations.

Now, more than ever, it is critical to effectively apply existing international legal mechanisms to stop the killings of political prisoners in Lukashenko's prisons. Today, the death of Ihar Lednik became known - and this is the fifth known death of a political prisoner. Vitold Ashurak, Ales Pushkin, Mikalai Klimovich, Vadim Khrasko, Ihar Lednik - all these people lost their lives and were actually killed by the Lukashenko regime.

We have repeatedly conveyed to our partners our readiness to start interaction within the Consultative Group between the EU and Belarusian democratic forces and civil society to develop clear steps to bring to justice those responsible, to restore justice for the victims of crimes against humanity in Belarus, and to stop further victims among Belarusians.

Source: NAM

Responsibility for slavery in the twenty-first century

Feb 20, 2024

An urgent matter requiring immediate attention is the problem of political prisoners in Belarus and the use of their slave labor in numerous enterprises based on colonies and prisons.

Currently, there are 1,422 officially recognised political prisoners in Belarus, who are illegally kept in open and closed detention facilities. According to the representative on social policy of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus Olga Gorbunova, about 1400 political prisoners have already served their illegally imposed terms and survived penitentiary repression and prison slave labor in the production facilities of the colonies. The most tragic are the deaths of political prisoners: Vitold Ashurak, Mikalai Klimovich, Ales Pushkin, Vadzim Hrasko and Ihar Lednik.

Political prisoners are illegally held in various institutions of the Department of Corrections of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Lukashenko regime. In Belarus there are 16 correctional colonies, 4 correctional colonies-settlements, 28 open-type institutions, or "chemistry" in popular language, where they are not only tortured, but also subjected to forced labor.

Political prisoners in penitentiaries are engaged in the production of specific goods, which are then sold both openly, including through online shops, and through numerous dealers and intermediaries, who when selling the goods change the manufacturer of the goods, i.e. do not indicate that the goods are produced by prisoners in the colonies. 

Also these goods can be exported, including to the markets of the EU member states. Revenues from the Belarusian prison-industrial conveyor belt are considerable. And these revenues are used to finance both the retention of Lukashenko's power and the repression itself.

We ask and urge all non-different and fighting against the regime citizens, mass media, democratic leaders, members of associations, parties, organizations, diasporas, all Belarusians and people sympathetic to Belarusians to speak as much as possible about the problem of political prisoners, forced labor and inevitability of punishment of Lukashenko's regime for the repression of the Belarusian people.

Leaving the problem of political prisoners without the attention of the world community will continue to lead to tragic deaths behind Lukashenko's bars.

We are obliged to do everything possible and impossible to stop repression, slavery and deaths of the Belarusian people. And to stop the existence of Lukashenko's criminal regime.

Source: NAM

Marharyta Vorykhava became first ever representative of Belarus in Council of Europe’s Advisory Council on Youth

Feb 19, 2024

The Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe is a unique platform for cooperation between government bodies and youth organizations of the continent. In fact, the decisions made during its discussions determine youth policy throughout all of Europe.

Although Belarus is not a member of the Council of Europe, Belarusian youth have the opportunity to assert themselves in the international arena and influence key processes in various spheres. At the European Youth Forum in Strasbourg, Margarita Vorykhava was elected to represent Belarus in the Advisory Council.

“My priority will be to protect the interests of young people from all over Europe and, of course, from Belarus. I will aim to gain full support from the member states of the Council of Europe in Belarus’ pursuit of democracy. For us, this will mean strengthening the support for Belarusians in the international arena”, explains Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Advisor on Youth Policy and Students, Marharyta Vorykhava.

Let us emphasize. This is the first case when someone from Belarus is represented in the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe. The inclusion of a representative of Belarus guarantees that our problems will be highlighted.

1. What is the Advisory Council?

The Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe deals with youth policy development. It consists of 30 representatives from youth organizations and NGOs. The council operates based on a cooperative approach, where government and youth representatives from various organizations work together. This body ensures that young people are recognized as equal partners in policy development, embodying the principle of “nothing about us without us”.

The council aims to address specific issues related to youth and to develop recommendations for member states of the Council of Europe, as well as to advise the Committee of Ministers. Essentially, it serves as a platform where different viewpoints are brought together, and recommendations are formulated, which directly influence the well-being and interests of youth.

2. How can the Advisory Council benefit Belarusian youth?

Despite Belarus not being a member state of the Council of Europe, Belarusians can actively participate in decision-making on policies that directly affect them.

A vivid example of the council’s influence is its full support for the Council of Europe’s Contact Group on Belarus. Belarusian youth can contribute to shaping pan-European policies, expanding their opportunities, and representing themselves on the international stage.

3. What role does Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Advisor on Youth Policy and Students play?

Marharyta Vorykhava is the representative elected by the European Youth Forum to the Advisory Council on Youth. Her role is to advocate for the interests of young people across Europe and, specifically, from Belarus.

Ms. Vorykhava will focus on ensuring the full support of the Council of Europe member states in Belarus’ pursuit of democracy. This involves mobilizing support for Belarusians in the international arena. Ms. Vorykhava’s election to the council also emphasizes the importance of democracy, human rights, and the voice of Belarusian youth in the international agenda.