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Belarusians courageously demand democratic change. The EU must stand by them

For weeks, people in Belarus have taken to the streets to protest the fraudulent Presidential elections and the wave of repression that followed. Last Sunday, once again the massive demonstrations were asking for the departure of Lukashenko. During our EU Foreign Ministers meeting we underlined our full support: the future of Belarus must be decided by the people of Belarus and them alone.

Before our Foreign Affairs Council, we had an informal breakfast with Ms Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, one of the key leaders of the Belarusian pro-democracy Coordination Council.

Tsikhanouskaya was the principal opponent of Aleksandr Lukashenko in the Presidential Elections of 9 August. To a certain extent, she is an “accidental” hero. She ran instead of her husband, a well-known blogger who was jailed in May 2020. She was the only true opposition figure allowed to take part in the elections, following the exclusion on technical grounds of the former Deputy Foreign Minister Tsepkalo and the former head of Belgazprom-bank Babariko. Lukashenko miscalculated, thinking that a 37-year old woman, a former teacher and a housewife would not pose a challenge. Together with the wife of Tsepkalo and head of Babriko’s campaign Maryja Kaliesnikava, the female trio managed to mobilise the Belarusian population to vote against Lukashenko.

Following the election, Tsikhanouskaya has been forced to leave the country on 11 August and remains in exile in Lithuania since then. It was important to hear her assessment of the latest developments, including on the prospects for an inclusive national dialogue and how the EU can support this and the people of Belarus in their fight for democracy.

Click here for the full press release


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