Poland among first to back Belarusian democracy movement - Tsikhanouskaya

Rafał Guz/PAP

Poland was among the first countries to back the democracy movement in Belarus, exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said on Thursday after meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw.

Tsikhanouskaya, in exile in Lithuania since her defeat in a rigged 2020 presidential election which gave the vote to Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko, said she had deep respect for Poland for its support of the Belarusian opposition.

"Poland was one of the first countries to hear the Belarusians' voice and support the democracy movement in Belarus. I respect Poland very much for its stand," Tsikhanouskaya said, adding that "other countries were not as courageous."

Asked about the best way to resolve the conflict between the Belarusian opposition and the Lukashenko regime, Tsikhanouskaya said she supports peaceful methods and dialogue. She stressed that the opposition's strivings had to lead to free elections, in which Belarusians would be able to "choose the leader they want."

"Our strategy aims at the release of political prisoners and dialogue with... the regime," she said.

Duda said he hoped the situation in Belarus would be addressed by other countries besides Poland, and called it "an example of what happens when there is no democracy."