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Shaheen & Wicker, Free Belarus Caucus Co-Chairs, Welcome Belarusian Opposition Leader to U.S. Capitol

Belarus opposition leader

Shaheen and Wicker with Belarusian pro-democracy leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya at the U.S. Capitol.

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), co-chairs and founders of the Free Belarus Caucus, welcomed Belarusian pro-democracy leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to the U.S. Capitol today and gave brief statements on the Belarusian pro-democracy movement. The Senators underscored the importance of holding Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his autocratic regime accountable for its brutal human rights violations, including abuses against political opposition and independent media, and complicity in Putin’s war against Ukraine. Shaheen and Wicker reaffirmed U.S. support for the pro-democracy movement led by Tsikhanouskaya ahead of Belarus’ Freedom Day, which is recognized on March 25.

“I was honored to welcome the brave leader of Belarus’ pro-democracy movement to the U.S. Capitol today: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Ms. Tsikhanouskaya represents the future Belarus deserves: a country committed to democracy, transparency and accountability,” said Shaheen. “Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s autocratic government operates with impunity and continues to allow Belarus’s sovereign territory to be used to further Putin’s expansionist agenda as he continues to launch unprovoked attacks on Ukraine. Still, there are brave Belarusians – independent journalists, human rights defenders and other members of civil society - fighting to expose the Lukashenka’s criminal complicity with Russia and continued human rights abuses against his own people. We must continue to support them in their fight for democracy.”

“It was an honor to stand with this distinguished representative of all the freedom fighters in Belarus and to say that that our caucus, our bipartisan caucus, stands with her and her countrymen,” Wicker said. “We believe that there's a better future for Belarus that includes representative democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and those fundamental freedoms that we hold so dear.”

Video of the media availability can be accessed here.

In 2021, Shaheen and Wicker launched the bipartisan Free Belarus Caucus following the Senators’ meeting with Tsikhanouskaya. Shaheen and Wicker have been urging the administration to appoint a U.S. Special Envoy to Belarus since August. Shaheen and Wicker also led a bipartisan resolution that reaffirms U.S. support for the Belarusian pro-democracy movement, which unanimously cleared the Senate last year.

Senator Shaheen previously led a bipartisan delegation to Eastern Europe, which included stops in Ukraine and Lithuania, where she met with Ms. Tsikhanouskaya to discuss Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime increasing human rights abuses against political opposition. Shaheen previously questioned Tsikhanouskaya during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy in Belarus. Senator Shaheen penned an op-ed in USA Today on why the West must come together to address the political situation in Belarus. Last year, Shaheen joined a congressional delegation visit to Poland to discuss Russian aggression against Ukraine and met with former U.S. Special Envoy for Belarus, Ambassador Julie Fisher, and members from the Belarusian pro-democracy movement. Shaheen leads a bipartisan resolution in the Senate recognizing political repression in Belarus.