Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya arrived in Washington on July 18 as part of a multiday trip in the United States to rally support for her pro-democracy movement against authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Tsikhanouskaya has a busy schedule with high-level meetings at the State Department on July 19 and at the White House on July 20, her team said on Telegram.
The exiled opposition leader will also meet with members of Congress from both parties and attend the opening of the first Friends of Belarus congressional caucus group aimed at supporting the democratic movement in the country. Also on the agenda are talks with USAID head Samantha Power as Washington pledges support for the Belarusian opposition and civil society.
Upon her arrival in Washington, Tsikhanouskaya was greeted at the airport by U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher, who has been unable to take up her post in Minsk because the Belarusian government has denied her a visa.
Tsikhanouskaya then met with the Belarusian diaspora for a small rally in central Washington’s Freedom Plaza.
Tsikhanouskaya’s press office said she plans to visit New York and California later in the week.
Tsikhanouskaya’s U.S. visit comes as Belarusian security forces in recent weeks have ramped up repression against media and human rights organizations, drawing even greater criticism from Western countries that have already slapped several rounds of sanctions on Lukashenka’s regime.
Belarus has been mired in turmoil since a disputed presidential election in August 2020 that gave Lukashenka his sixth consecutive term in power.
The West and the opposition say the vote was rigged and Tsikhanouskaya was the true winner.