The visit by Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to Washington last week appears to have borne fruit. She reminded American officials and politicians about the repressive nature of the Moscow-supported dictatorship in her country and urged that the oppressed Belarusian people should not be identified with the Lukashenko regime which is aiding and abetting Russia in its imperialistic war against Ukraine.
Speaking in Washington on March 22, the exiled opposition leader urged her country to break ties with neighbor Russia as she spoke out against President Alexander Lukashenko's support for the war in Ukraine, AFP reported.
"It is time to push back against Russia's interference into the internal affairs of Belarus. It supports the illegitimate regime and conducts colonialist actions against our serenity and national identity," she told a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington.
"The aggressor military freely uses our territory, airspace and infrastructure to attack and threaten Ukraine. The Russian military should be fully withdrawn from Belarus and our country must stop participation in the war."
"And it's important to remember that there are brave Belarusians, independent journalists, human rights defenders and other members of civil society, who are bravely fighting in exile to expose Lukashenko's criminal complicity in Russia's war in Ukraine," AFP reported her saying.
On March 25 the US State Department published a statement on Belarus Freedom Day which reads:
“Today, we celebrate, along with Belarusians across the world, Belarus Freedom Day. This day highlights the democratic legacy of the first independent Belarusian state, established in 1918 after 150 years of Russian occupation.
Despite the Lukashenka regime’s complicity in Russia’s war against Ukraine, brave Belarusians continue to stand up for an independent, stable, and democratic future for Belarus. In the face of the Lukashenka regime’s brutal and systemic crackdown on all sectors of Belarusian society the Belarusian democratic movement and civil society still courageously push forward for a free Belarus.
Yesterday, the United States took action to hold the Lukashenka regime to account for its human rights abuses against the Belarusian people and for facilitating the Russian Federation’s unconscionable war against Ukraine. The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced sanctions actions targeting state-owned enterprises and individuals who provide support to the regime’s brutality. At the same time, we announced actions to impose visa restrictions on an additional 14 individuals under Presidential Proclamation 8015 for their involvement in undermining democracy.
We are also taking steps to reinforce our support of a democratic Belarus. The U.S. government intends to launch a comprehensive Strategic Dialogue covering relevant topics of mutual interest with the Belarusian democratic movement and civil society.
On Belarus Freedom Day, we reaffirm the long-standing policy of the United States to support a democratic, sovereign, and stable Belarus. This commitment is unwavering, bipartisan, and firmly rooted in the values of our nation. The Biden Administration wholeheartedly supports this policy, as have all U.S. Presidents for more than 30 years.
We dedicate this day to the freedom of the nearly 1,500 political prisoners of the Lukashenka regime and to the freedom of all Belarusians, who deserve to create their own future, free of Lukashenka’s repression and Putin’s coercion.”
Inexplicably, there is still a deafening silence from official Kyiv even on this day and in response to Tsikhanouskaya’s strong statements of support for Ukraine and condemnation of Lukashenko’s complicity in Russia’s crimes against the Ukrainians.
Perhaps Washington's response will be heeded in the Ukrainian capital and, in addition to expressing support for a free Chechnya, the Ukrainian parliament and political leadership will begin openly supporting the Belarusian struggle for freedom and real independence.
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