Skip to content

Shaheen, Wicker Send Letter to UN Ambassador Urging Support for Belarus Pro-Democracy Movement

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees and Chair of the Europe and Regional Security Cooperation SFRC Subcommittee, and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, today sent a letter to UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield asking her to work with the Belarus pro-democracy movement on an application for Permanent Observer Status at the UN. The letter follows the bipartisan Shaheen-Wicker Belarus Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty Act introduced in December 2023. The effort also comes on the heels of Democratic Leader of Belarus Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s visit to Washington, where Shaheen met with her to discuss continued support for the pro-democracy movement and particularly for political prisoners jailed in Belarus by the Lukashenka regime.

In part, the Senators wrote: “On behalf of the more than 1,500 political prisoners jailed in Belarus by an authoritarian regime and to ensure the voices of the people of Belarus are heard by the international community, we respectfully request that the U.S. Mission to the United Nations support an application for the status of Permanent Observer by the Belarus democracy movement.”

They continued: “The United States recognizes Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya as the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election in Belarus and as the legitimate representative for the Belarusian people. As such, the U.S. Government works with her office and those who resist the Lukashenka regime’s authoritarianism to support a sovereign, democratic future for Belarus. These advocates for freedom deserve to be heard and recognized at international institutions, including at the United Nations.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.

Last week, Senator Shaheen presented the Democracy Service Medal from the National Endowment for Democracy to Tsikhanouskaya, noting her personal sacrifice as she continues to represent the Belarusian people and their fight for democracy from exile and the courage of all Belarusian freedom fighters.

In 2021, Shaheen and Wicker launched the bipartisan Free Belarus Caucus and during the 116th Congress, a previous iteration of their bill, the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty Act of 2020, passed the House of Representatives. Shaheen and Wicker have been urging the administration to appoint a U.S. Special Envoy to Belarus. Shaheen and Wicker also led a bipartisan resolution that reaffirms U.S. support for the Belarusian pro-democracy movement, which unanimously cleared the Senate.

In 2023, Shaheen led a bipartisan Congressional delegation to the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where the delegation met with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to discuss a return to democracy in Belarus and the Kremlin’s illegal war in Ukraine. The Democratic Leader of Belarus has been based in Vilnius since fleeing the Lukashenka regime, which has tried her in absentia and sentenced her to 15 years in prison.

In 2021, Shaheen penned an op-ed in USA Today on why the West must come together to address the political situation in Belarus. She joined a Congressional delegation visit in 2022 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.