Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's speech at the hearing at International Relations and Defence Committee House of Lords in London, 2023

“Honorable Lords and Baronesses,
Dear excellences, dear friends of free Belarus,
Dear Lord Foulkes,

I want to start by thanking the International Relations and Defense Committee and each one of you for your willingness to take brave steps to defend security and democracy in Europe. 

As you may know, I am only here because of what happened to my husband. Almost three years ago, Siarhei was standing for election when the tyrant Lukashenko ordered the secret police to lock him up, along with every other potential political opponent.

But they forgot about me! (That often seems to happen with women.) Unfortunately for Lukashenko, after I stepped up to replace Siarhei, the people of Belarus voted overwhelmingly for me to be president. This terrified Lukashenko, who then stole the election. It kickstarted a revolution in Belarus that continues to this day.

The regime unleashed the massive terror against Belarusians. Feeling impunity, Lukashenka became the threat to entire region: he hijacked the Ryanair flight, orchestrated the migration crisis, and then became Putin’s complicit in the war against Ukraine. 

The revolution in Belarus and the war in Ukraine shows that dictatorship is not “out there”, it is here, nearby. It is knocking on the door of Europe. Borders, roadblocks and even oceans can not save us from this threat.

I believe that the defeat of Putin and Lukashenka is inevitable. My cautious optimism is supported by the fact that the war united not only Belarus’ and Ukraine’s fight against Putin's bloody aggression. It also united the entire democratic world.

And now it is important not to weaken this unity, but to make it even stronger. Don't be led by dictators and don't be fooled into short-term deals. Strengthen those who are sacrificing their lives right now to protect the future of Europe.

Belarus is held hostage by Putin and Lukashenka. There are more than 10,000 Russian soldiers stationed in Belarus. Recently, documents have been published that speak of Russia's plans to swallow Belarus by 2030. 

The subjugation of Belarus started many years ago: Russia was consistently trying to dominate Belarusian political, economic, military, informational, and cultural sectors. 

Belarusian civil society was being suppressed, and the Belarusian language and culture were discriminated against in favor of Russian. And all that was done by Lukashenka and his regime.

The crackdown on Belarusian society that started after fraudulent elections in 2020 was just a preparation for Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Since then, more than 60,000 Belarusians have gone through prisons. Last year alone, the regime opened more than 5,000 politically motivated criminal cases. Over the past month – more than 250. About 17 innocent people are illegally detained in Belarus every day. They are tortured, humiliated, even raped. And then sentenced to long prison terms in totally inhuman and degrading conditions.

The absurdity of the accusations is growing. Recently, Lukashenka's court added another 1.5 years to my husband's 18 years prison term. And the day before yesterday, the court sentenced me, in absentia, to 15 years in prison on trumped-up charges. 

At the same time, thousands of Belarusians are serving sentences not in absentia, but in real and terrible prisons. Our Nobel laureate Ales Bialiatski – 10 years. Independent journalists – 5-8 years. Our railway partisans – from 14 to 24 years in prison.

This is Lukashenka's revenge upon those who dare to oppose him. It is a message to all other Belarusians. Lukashenka and Putin want to make Belarusians quiet and submissive. And they don’t want a future for Belarus. They don’t want Ukraine to have a future, either. They try to restore the aggressive war-mongering empire.

But Belarusians will never again agree to live under the whip hand of tyrants. And every day we fight for our freedom and the right to be part of the European family.

A week ago, Belarusian partisans damaged a massive Russian spy plane at the airfield in Machulishchy. Lukashenka was outraged by this bold and brave action under the very nose of the dictator. Last year, our partisans conducted more than 80 acts of sabotage to stop Russian military from moving to Ukraine. 

Thanks to such examples of courageous resistance, neither Russian troops nor Lukashenka can believe that they are the masters of Belarus. 

The war in Ukraine convinced us once again  that a free Belarus can exist only within Europe. And vice versa. A free, secure Europe is impossible without independent Belarus and Ukraine.

And I urge you to be firm and courageous both in supporting Ukraine and in supporting the Belarusian democratic movement. We need a clear and coordinated strategy.

We need to isolate Lukashenka’s regime, to sanctions his cronies: officials, businessmen, judges, prosecutors, propagandists – all those who help dictators and support the war.

We have to launch of international legal proceedings against Belarus regime for complicity in war and for crimes against humanity. The regime must not stay unpunished.

I urge you: don’t call Lukashenka the president. He is not. He is a criminal who lost elections and seized power. Distinguish ordinary Belarusian people from the regime. It’s the regime that became Putin’s collaborator. Belarusians stand with Ukraine.

We ask you to support our civil society, media, and human rights groups, as well as our fearless partisans and volunteers in Ukraine.

Make sure that Belarus will not become a consolation prize for Putin when Ukraine demands the full withdrawal of Russian troops not only from Ukraine but also from Belarus.

Include representatives of democratic Belarus in the conversation about the future of Europe. It will be impossible to build a new security architecture of Europe without free Belarus.

I ask each of you – join Belarus APPG in the UK Parliament. Adopt political prisoners – your tweet, phone call to family, or letter to prison will be a strong sign of solidarity.

And my last point – Join us on the International day of solidarity with Belarus – on March 25. On this day, 105 years ago, the independence of Belarusian Democratic Republic was proclaimed.

Dear friends,

I am grateful to the UK Parliament and UK Government for all the support you have already provided. I am happy that the Belarus issue unites all political parties in Great Britain. We are strong when we are united.

I don’t ask you to change the regime for us. We will do it by ourselves. But with your help, we will be able to do it faster and with no more innocent victims. 

Let’s consign war, oppression, and tyranny to where they rightfully belong, to the dark and terrible past, never to be repeated.

Thank you”.

8 March 2023 в 19:27