Shaheen, Sullivan and Durbin Welcome Belarusian Opposition Leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to U.S. Senate

July 20, 2021

7.20.21 Tsihanouskaya event

Senators Durbin, Shaheen, Sullivan, Wicker and Kaine greet Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

Earlier today, Shaheen and Tsikhanouskaya appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to reaffirm U.S. support for a democratic future in Belarus.

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and Chair of the Europe and Regional Security Cooperation SFRC Subcommittee, joined U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Chairman of the International Republican Institute and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) to welcome Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to the U.S. Senate this afternoon to meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

The lawmakers were also joined by Senators Roger Wicker (R-MI), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Lindsey Graham (R-LA), and Julie Fisher – the United States Ambassador to Belarus – for the discussion, where they highlighted U.S. support for Belarus and heard Tsikhanouskaya’s determination to build a free and democratic future in her country.

“I was honored to have the opportunity to welcome Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to the U.S. Senate today and demonstrate the bipartisan support for her vision of democracy in Belarus,” said Senator Shaheen. “The United States supports her and all those pushing for a free, accountable and transparent government on behalf of the Belarusian people. For too long, Lukashenka’s authoritarian regime has committed gross human rights violations, which have escalated in recent weeks and months, targeting political opponents and members of the press. The United States and international community are united in fierce repudiation of these crimes and will continue to work together to hold Lukashenka and his thugs to account. I hope the images of Tsikhanouskaya in the halls of Congress send a clear message to Lukashenka that the United States stands with the Belarusian people.”

“Ms. Tsikhanouskaya has bravely stood up to the rise of authoritarianism in her country, leading a powerful movement for democratic change from Lithuania. It was a privilege to join my Senate colleagues in showing unified, bipartisan support for Svetlana and the Belarusian people,” said Senator Sullivan. “Through our meeting and her many other engagements, Ms. Tsikhanouskaya is building international support for a future democratic Belarus while inspiring hope for those inside the country who remain under Alexander Lukashenka’s dictatorship. Belarus today far too closely resembles its Soviet past, but the people of Belarus will ultimately decide their nation’s future and end the final vestiges of totalitarianism in Europe. The United States stands with them.”

“The ‘Last Dictator of Europe’ will not have the last say in the future of the Belarusian people. Today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers welcomed Belarusian Opposition Leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to the Senate. We discussed the Lukashenko regime’s shameful human rights record, rejection of the choice of the Belarusian voter, and recent crackdown on journalists, including at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This is a critical moment in Belarus’ history and the United States stands with Tsikhanouskaya and the people of Belarus as they seek to build a democratic future,” said Senator Durbin.

Senator Shaheen recently returned from Eastern Europe after leading a bipartisan delegation to discuss transatlantic relations, democratic reforms and countering increasing aggression from Russia. In Lithuania, Shaheen met with Tsikhanouskaya to discuss the Lukashenka regime’s increasing human rights abuses against political opposition. Last month, Shaheen questioned Tsikhanouskaya during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. policy in Belarus. Senator Shaheen recently penned an op-ed in USA Today on why the West must come together to address the political situation in Belarus.

Last year, Senators Durbin and Shaheen unanimously passed a Senate resolution (S. 658) condemning the arrest of opposition candidates and calling for a fair and legitimate August 2020 election. In January 2011, Senator Durbin traveled to Belarus after the stolen December 2010 election, during which time he met with the families of the jailed opposition candidates. Additionally, Tsikhanouskaya was recently honored by Senator Sullivan and the International Republican Institute for her contributions to the democratic awakening in Belarus.