Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the Belarusian democracy movement, thanked Latvia for supporting Belarusians in their fight for democracy in her address to the Parliament of Latvia on Thursday, 9 June.
Before the address by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Ināra Mūrniece, Speaker of the Saeima, stated that the Belarusian opposition is currently forced to operate from abroad. “The citizens of Belarus continue fighting for change in Belarus,” said Speaker Mūrniece, noting that the Saeima has also adopted statements in support of the Belarusian opposition in its fight for freedom, democracy, freedom of speech, and human rights.
“We support the call to organise democratic elections in Belarus,” highlighted Speaker Mūrniece, while expressing her sympathy to those representatives of the Belarusian democratic opposition that are themselves currently detained or have detained family members.
In her address, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya noted that Latvia is not foreign to Belarusians, as both Latvia and Belarus share history, borders, and values, and together both nations have experienced dark times that are still a reality in Belarus.
Belarus is de facto occupied, said Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, stating that Aleksandr Lukashenka is not fulfilling the will of the Belarusian people, but rather the will of Vladimir Putin, who is helping Lukashenka to stay in power. Lukashenka is a supporter of war and he must he held accountable, said the leader of the Belarusian democracy movement, noting that 86% of Belarusians are against the war in Ukraine.
“We are well aware that Ukraine’s victory will pave the way for the freedom of Belarusians,” underscored Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. The leader of the Belarusian democracy movement stated that, even under terror, Belarusians support Ukraine’s fight for life and freedom.
Tsikhanouskaya noted that Belarusians now stand at the crossroads of history. There are two paths: a democratic Belarus in Europe or a de jure occupation of Russia along with isolation and regress. We choose the former and hope for your help and support along the way, said the leader of the Belarusian democracy movement.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called for a strong position against Lukashenka and urged not to succumb to his extortion, inter alia, by intensifying sanctions against those state-owned enterprises in Belarus that provide money to the Lukashenka regime. The leader of the Belarusian democracy movement also urged Latvia to find ways of issuing visas and residence permits to Belarusians, increase the number of Belarusian student scholarships, as well as implement programmes for Belarusian scientists, journalists, and cultural workers.
Tsikhanouskaya called on Latvians to avoid visiting Belarus as it is now a country of suffering for innocent people and political prisoners. We shall build a democratic country and welcome you there, said the leader of the Belarusian democracy movement.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya thanked the schools in Latvia that enrolled and are continuing to enrol Belarusian children, cultural workers that are organising Belarusian culture events, and noted that, under Lukashenka’s terror, Latvia also provides refuge to the Belarusian media and NGOs. We shall never forget the help you provided for Ukraine and Belarusians. Together we must do everything in our power to stop the war, said Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
Saeima Press Service