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Minister Coveney meets Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Belarusian democratic opposition leader

Belarusian democratic opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is visiting Ireland from 13-16 July at the invitation of the Government. Ms. Tsikhanouskaya was Alexander Lukashenko’s challenger during the fraudulent August 2020 Presidential election after which she was forced into exile in neighbouring Lithuania. Ireland and the EU have rejected the democratic legitimacy of Alexander Lukashenko and we stand firmly and resolutely with the Belarusian people who have been calling for free and fair elections for 11 months. 

On 15 July, Ms. Tsikhanouskaya will meet with the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney T.D., and Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne T.D. She will also address Oireachtas members at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and have a range of other meetings.

Welcoming the visit, Minister Coveney said:

“I am delighted to be able to welcome Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to Ireland. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss with her the latest developments in Belarus, including the ongoing repression of the Belarusian people by the Lukashenko regime and the forced diversion of a Ryanair aircraft to Minsk on 23 May.

The people of Ireland have an enduring connection with the people of Belarus, fostered through years of personal connections. We continue to stand with them in their struggle to exercise their fundamental democratic and human rights.”

Note for Editors

Ms. Tsikhanouskaya represents the democratic opposition and the Belarusian people who maintain their staunch defence of democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Ms. Tsikhanouskaya has a strong personal connection to Ireland having spent many summers here in her youth.

The EU has responded firmly to the fraudulent election of August 2020 and the repression of the Belarussian people which has followed. Sanctions have been put in place on those responsible for the repression including Mr. Lukashenko.

In response to the forced division of the Ryanair flight on 23 May, the EU has imposed sanctions on those responsible, restricted flights in EU airspace for Belarussian airlines and introduced a range of targeted economic sanctions.

ENDS

Press Office

14 July 2021

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