Jul 28, 2021 - World

Biden meets Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Belarus Opposition Leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya

Belarus Opposition Leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden held a previously unannounced meeting with Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya Tuesday.

Driving the news: Tsikhanouskaya visited Washington, D.C. last week and met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security advisor Jake Sullivan but notably did not get a meeting with the president.

What they're saying: In a tweet following their meeting, Biden reiterated the U.S.' support for the "people of Belarus in their quest for democracy and universal human rights."

  • Tsikhanouskaya tweeted her thanks to 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," she added.

The big picture: Tsikhanouskaya's visit to the U.S. is intended to drum up renewed support for the opposition movement and urge the Biden administration to apply new sectoral sanctions.

  • In an interview with Axios last week, Tsikhanouskaya called on the U.S. to be "braver" and "stronger" in standing up to Aleksander Lukashenko's regime.
  • Franak Viačorka, Tsikhanouskaya's senior advisor, tweeted that the meeting with Biden marked the first time that a Belarusian leader was "received on such a high level in Washington D.C."
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