Belarus opposition seeks US technology help

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·2-min read
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on a visit to Washington (AFP/Brendan Smialowski) (Brendan Smialowski)
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The leader of Belarus' opposition said Friday that the United States is looking at stepping up technological assistance in the struggle against strongman Alexander Lukashenko.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who along with Western observers says she won a 2020 election against Lukashenko, spoke with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other senior US officials and lawmakers on a trip to Washington.

"I was assured of full support for the Belarusian democratic movement," she told the State Department Correspondents' Association.

"We also spoke about providing Belarusian journalists and activists with equipment and technology," she said.

She said that she discussed ways to circumvent regime disinformation including broadcasts of forced confessions.

Franak Viacorka, a senior advisor to Tikhanovskaya, said pro-democracy forces have also spoken to US technology companies to seek an end to lumping Belarus into the "Russian media ecosystem," which is closely censored.

Lukashenko, who has grown closer to Moscow as he cracks down on dissent following the 2020 election, has been one of the main international supporters of President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Tikhanovskaya said she shared with US officials evidence of Lukashenko's support for the war as well as a list of companies and countries that help circumvent Western sanctions on the regime.

"We spoke about making sanctions more effective, closing remaining loopholes, freezing Lukashenko's assets and blocking the money given to him by the IMF," she said.

Tikhanovskaya hailed individual Belarusians' resistance to using their territory against Ukraine, saying that around 80 railways used to transport Russian equipment were disrupted.

The State Department in a statement said that Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who led the meeting involving Blinken, "emphasized the United States' enduring support for the Belarusian people's democratic aspirations."

Tikhanovskaya, who lives in exile in Lithuania, was visiting Washington for the memorial service of former secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

sct/bfm

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