Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners, Council of Europe Summit. Results of the work of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Office for May 15-21, 2023

DAY OF SOLIDARITY. May 21 marked the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners in Belarus, declared by Belarusian human rights defenders and supported by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. The campaign aimed to draw attention to the disastrous situation of political prisoners and achieve their release. Activities on the occasion of Solidarity Day were held in more than 30 countries, including Belarus itself. Influential politicians, ministers, and presidents, including the US Secretary of State, Council of Europe Secretary General, and President of the European Parliament, called on the Lukashenka regime for the immediate release of all political prisoners. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya thanked all those who joined the Day of Solidarity and also emphasized that political prisoners have been kept in complete isolation for weeks.

SUPPORT FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS. The Office released a guide on solidarity foundations and initiatives and their assistance to political prisoners and their families.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE SUMMIT. On May 15, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya took part in the Council of Europe Summit in Reykjavik, where she spoke at a meeting of its Parliamentary Assembly, PACE, and attended the meetings of the summit itself. Leaders of 46 countries were at the summit. The Belarusian leader met with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, PACE President, Prime Minister of Portugal, and other leaders. You can read more about the outcomes of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's first and second days of the summit. The summit resulted in a declaration speaking of continued cooperation with democratic Belarus, as well as of the Lukashenka regime's complicity in the abduction of Ukrainian children. Ms. Tsikhanouskaya stated that with this summit Belarus embarks on its way towards the accession to the Council of Europe.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's Advisor on Legal Affairs Kristina Rikhter commented on the Council of Europe declaration adopted on May 17: “The Council of Europe acknowledged the fact of the unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children to Belarus. This was a result of the collaborative efforts and productive work of Belarus’ democratic forces. We hope that this step by the Council of Europe will catalyze Lukashenka’s accountability for war crimes against Ukraine in the future”.

NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY. On May 21, Ms. Tsikhanouskaya addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO in Luxembourg that brings together legislators from the alliance’s member countries. Her speech focused on the situation with political prisoners, the risk of nuclear weapons stationing in Belarus, accountability for the Lukashenka regime, and assistance to Belarusian volunteer fighters in Ukraine. She also met with the delegations of Italy, the UK, Canada, and Portugal, as well as the President of the Parliamentary Assembly.

VISIT TO DENMARK. On May 15, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit. She addressed the possible stationing of nuclear weapons in Belarus, the critical situation of political prisoners, and bringing the regime to account through international courts. During her short visit, Ms. Tsikhanouskaya visited the Danish Parliament, where she met with the Speaker of the Danish Parliament, Søren Gade, and MPs whose field of work includes Belarus.

ESTONIA. Thanks to the Office’s close cooperation with the Estonian government, Estonia lifted some visa restrictions for Belarusians, in particular for students and doctors.

GROUPS OF FRIENDS OF BELARUS. A Belarusian delegation, including Advisor for Interparliamentary Cooperation Anatoli Liabiedzka and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's Representative in Estonia Vitaly Malchanau, took part in the Baltic Assembly events in Tallinn. Mr. Liabiedzka spoke about the results of the negotiations: “Parliamentary groups For Democratic Belarus may be formed soon in Estonia and Latvia”.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR BELARUSIANS. A new issue of the Asveta digest was released, compiling international opportunities for Belarusian students and researchers. 

COMMEMORATION OF HEROES. May 15 marked one year since the death of Pavel “Volat” Suslau, Kastus Kalinouski Regiment Commander. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya commented: “We must remember and honor our heroes. It is hard for me to imagine the pain of loss experienced by Natallia, Pavel's mother. A heroic woman who, after her son's death, joined the Kastus Kalinouski regiment and continued his cause. We cannot bring her son back, but we can help Ukraine win this war and then liberate our Belarus”. On May 16, Alexander Dabravolski, Advisor to Ms. Tsikhanouskaya, spoke on behalf of the Office at an event in memory of Pavel Suslau in Vilnius.

WORK WITH VOLUNTEERS AND NGOS. Office volunteers joined the Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners and released a piece on politically imprisoned volunteers in Belarus. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya held a meeting with Belarusian NGOs and initiatives. A coordination meeting with the People's Embassies was held.

MEDIA. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya gave a major interview to Zerkalo_io, where she spoke about the project of the new Belarus passport, political prisoners, and relations with the Kastus Kalinouski regiment and Ukraine. She also gave interviews to Newsweek (UK), DR (Denmark), (International), Dozhd (Russia), Denik N (Czechia), and contributed an op-ed in Berlingske (Denmark).

22 May 2023 в 10:56