Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya will meet with U.S. politicians during a trip to the United States next week aimed at finding ways to resolve the crisis in Belarus.
Tsikhanouskaya’s press office announced the trip on Telegram on July 16, saying she will visit Washington, New York, and California.
Her schedule is still being finalized, but her press office said she plans to leave on July 18 and meet with politicians, experts, and the Belarusian diaspora while in the United States.
Crisis In Belarus
Read our ongoing coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka continues his brutal crackdown on NGOs, activists, and independent media following the August 2020 presidential election, widely seen as fraudulent.
A U.S. official quoted by AFP said Tsikhanouskaya will meet with White House officials during her visit.
"The world has been inspired by the Belarusian people -- including the Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya -- who continue to bravely demand a meaningful voice in their country's future in the face of cruel repression," the unidentified official said, according to AFP.
"Senior officials at the White House look forward to meeting Ms. Tsikhanouskaya next week when she is in Washington,” the official said, adding that the United States stands with her and the people of Belarus and will continue to support their democratic aspirations.
Tsikhanouskaya’s office said her team had been in contact about the visit with the U.S. State Department and 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.
The announcement of Tsikhanouskaya’s U.S. visit came as security forces raided the offices and homes of several independent journalists across Belarus, including the premises of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Minsk.
The searches came two days after authorities raided the offices of a dozen human rights organizations and after the United Nations Human Rights chief said recent moves by Belarusian authorities were "completely unacceptable."
"Again a massive attack by security forces on journalists across the country," the Belarus Association of Journalists said in a statement listing 19 different searches carried out on journalists or their families on July 16.
Belarus has been mired in turmoil since a disputed presidential election in August 2020 that gave strongman leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka his sixth consecutive term in power.
Tsikhanouskaya, who was Lukashenka’s main challenger in the election, tweeted on July 16 that “the regime destroys every media that dares to tell the truth about the situation in Belarus.”