President Biden meets with Belarusian opposition leader

President Joe Biden has met with the Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya at the White House. She has earlier met with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Following the meeting, the American president tweeted “I was honoured to meet with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya at the White House this morning. The United States stands with the people of Belarus in their quest for democracy and universal human rights”.

A Belarusian opposition leader also took to Twitter to comment on the meeting, writing “Thank you President Biden for a powerful sign of solidarity with millions of fearless Belarusians who are peacefully fighting for their freedom. Today, Belarus is on the frontline of the battle between democracy and autocracy. The world stands with us. Belarus will be a success story”.

Tikhanouskaya's adviser Franak Viačorka said it was "the first time in history that a Belarusian leader has been received at such a high level in Washington D.C."

Tsikhanouskaya's meeting with the US president was initially scheduled for last week. Instead, she met with the Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as well as senators and congressmen from both parties.

After her visit to Washington DC, she travelled to New York last week, meeting with diplomats representing the countries that currently have seats on the UN Security Council.

The Belarusian opposition leader is next scheduled to visit Los Angeles and San Francisco before returning back to Lithuania, where she has been based since fleeing Belarus following the Belarusian presidential election in August 2020.

The Belarusian opposition, the European Union and a number of independent experts are of the position that President Aleksandr Lukashenko falsified the election results in order to guarantee himself a sixth consecutive term in office. Large-scale street protests erupted across the country following the announcement of the official election result, which put Lukashenko ahead of Tsikhanouskaya. The street protests were met with a crackdown by the authorities against the opposition and independent media.

Before meeting the US President, Tsikhanouskaya told journalists from the Polish Press Agency (PAP) that the outcome of her visit to the US would be a "strong and practical response to the actions of Aleksandr Lukashenko" implying that US authorities are likely to impose further sanctions on the Belarusian regime.