Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

The Trailblazer Award | 10/06/2022

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is the leader of Belarus’ democratic movement.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is the leader of Belarus’ democratic movement. When her husband was sentenced to prison for challenging Alexander Lukashenko in presidential elections, Sviatlana vowed to continue the campaign for a democratic future for Belarus. By all accounts, she won the 2020 presidential election, but Lukashenko declared himself the winner and forced her into exile. Massive pro-democracy protests across Belarus followed and were met by a brutal crackdown that included mass arrests, torture, and detentions. Repression under Lukashenko continues.

“I carry the voices of thousands of the Belarusian political prisoners and millions of political hostages,” said Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. “I carry every voice that has risen against injustice and violence. Every day I’m trying to do my best so that the world can hear these voices from Belarus. And this award is not for me. It’s for them”.

Earlier this year, Belarus became a staging ground for Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has mobilized an anti-war response and support for Ukraine, while also calling for continued attention and sustained support for the Belarusian democratic forces.  

“Over the last two years I had to learn so much to be a politician. But let me tell you something. I think politicians can learn from a mother,” said Tsikhanouskaya. “No woman would start this outrageous war, because a woman knows the cost of life. For the same reason, nothing will stop a woman from defeating tyranny.”

“We know what we’re fighting for. We are not planning to give up. And I am here to remind you about the victims in Belarus and ask you to be consistent in your actions against the dictator: you should not forget what he did. You should not talk to him until the oppression stops and all of the political prisoners are freed with their rights fully restored. Only after this negotiations can start, and the aim of the negotiations is to hold new free and fair elections,” adds Tsikhanouskaya.