Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya and members of the Belarusian diaspora group Belarusians Abroad will hold a virtual conference on solidarity today.
Today’s conference is part of a series of events marking the onset of anti-regime protests against Belarus’ current president, Alexander Lukashenko. It follows months of violence against demonstrators by security forces as well as intensifying repression of Belarus’ independent media. The conference will feature remarks from Tsikhanouskaya and is expected to include information regarding the establishment of new People’s Embassies, opposition-led aid and information networks for Belarusians abroad.
Expect the event to focus on the need for international support for the democratic opposition in Belarus. While the US and the EU have imposed sanctions against Belarus since August, Tsikhanouskaya deems such measures insufficient. Combining targeted sanctions of Belarusian banks with assistance to Belarus’ media is probable, as US President Joe Biden has advocated for active crisis response.
However, as recent Western sanctions have coincided with increased Russian support for Lukashenko’s government, such measures alone are unlikely to force him from power. Therefore, expect Tsikhanouskaya to urge the West to implement harsher sanctions against Minsk, while also measuring her speech to avoid more severe repression.
Mariah is the Director of Analysis. A regular contributor to the Daily Brief, Mariah analyzes geopolitical and economic events in the states of the former Soviet Union.