Tsikhanouskaya urges US Senate to target sources of foreign funding for Lukashenka regime

Photo: Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya / Telegram

On June 9, Belarusian opposition Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya made a speech via videolink at the hearing US Policy on Belarus held by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She spoke about the forced landing of the Ryanair plane, the persecution of activists and journalists, the escalation of repression, sanctions against the Lukashenka regime, and answered questions from US senators.

According to her, the response from the international community to the crackdown against pro-democracy protests has been principled but gradual, sporadic, often symbolic, and diminishing, which helped the regime to adjust and to develop a growing sense of impunity.

“The international reaction [to the Ryanair incident] has finally been swift and effective: imposing practical measures and starting an ICAO investigation. However, the international reaction must not be limited to the Ryanair flight incident. The entire situation in Belarus deserves a comprehensive and unwavering response. Otherwise, we all will face such situations in the future, as Lukashenka is turning my country into a North Korea of Europe – non-transparent, unpredictable, and dangerous. The United States, acting together with its partners in Europe and with other like-minded nations, has the power to put a stop to this trajectory,” Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya said in her speech.

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The politician urged the United States to:

  • Expand the sanctions against Lukashenka’s cronies who finance the regime, including enterprises like Belaruskali and Mazyr Oil Refinery, identify sources of foreign funding for the regime, and target them.
  • Discuss the crisis in Belarus during high-profile international events like the G7 summit, NATO summit, US-EU summit, and US-Russia meeting and invite Belarusian democratic forces to participate.
  • Support EU in launching a high-profile international conference on the resolution of the crisis in Belarus involving main stakeholders.
  • Develop a U.S. aid package building up on the EU Comprehensive Plan for democratic Belarus to assure Belarusians that they will have help when the change comes and to prepare steps to stabilize and reform the economy. The U.S. can also participate in the associated Donors Forum, and Investors Meeting contemplated by the EU.

In her opinion, the above mentioned actions would help build up the momentum to launch a transition to elections, which is exactly what Belarusians demand. Otherwise, Lukashenka and other dictators around the world will feel impunity to freely break international norms to crush their opponents, Tsikhanouskaya stressed.

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