RIGA - The leader of the democratic movement in Belarus, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, emphasized on Thursday that the terror of the dictator Joseph Stalin has returned to modern day Belarus, she said while addressing Saeima.
She also pointed out that Latvia was the second country after Lithuania to impose sanctions on the regime of the authoritarian leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. Tsikhanouskaya emphasized that the Belarusians will never forget the help of the Latvian. She thanked the people of Latvia for their solidarity with Belarus and Ukraine.
"We will not forget the rallies of solidarity, the white-red-white flags on the windows. Ukraine will not forget your help either. We must do everything we can to stop the war and help the victims of the war," said the leader of the democratic movement in Belarus.
She pointed out that Latvia and Belarus are not just neighbors. The countries are united by a common history. During this terror being conducted by the Lukashenko regime, the Belarusian independent media and non-governmental organizations have found refuge in Latvia.
Tsikhanouskaya emphasized that both nations have experienced dark times - the Russian Empire, the Soviet occupation, the killing of the intelligentsia and mass deportations. She pointed out that, unlike Latvians, who have been living free for 32 years, freedom in Belarus was relatively short-lived.
"The dark times for my people are still going on. Loyalists to the Soviet ideas and the Kremlin are closing down publishing houses that print books in Belarusian. Entrepreneurs are also arrested, in whose shops you can buy goods with Belarusian symbols,'' she emphasized.
She argued that people who are standing up for democratic principles are being punished. The law, in turn, provides for the death penalty for any protests. The purpose of this law is to instill fear in people. The leader of the democratic movement in Belarus emphasized that when the repressions began, the Belarusians called for help but could not be heard.
According to Tsikhanouskaya, the European Union imposed sanctions ten months later, which was too late and allowed the regime to regroup. According to her, if Lukashenko had been stopped, Belarus would not have become an arena for attacking Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"If we had won, the suburbs of Kyiv would not be in ruins, the Russian army would not have pilfered the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and thousands of people in Bucha and Borodyanka would still be alive. One in five Russian missiles firing on Ukrainian cities have been fired from Belarus,'' said the leader of the Belarusian democratic movement.
She noted that Belarus was currently "de facto" occupied. Lukashenko is not fulfilling the wishes of the Belarusian people, but Putin is helping him stay in power. Lukashenko is a supporter of the war and must take responsibility for it. Tsikhanouskaya noted that 86 percent of Belarusians are against the war in Ukraine.
"We understand that Ukraine's victory will allow for Belarusians to become free. Dear friends, the Belarusians and the Lukashenko regime are not the same. Belarus is not Russia. Even in times of terror, Belarusians support the Ukrainian struggle for the price of life and freedom. Today we are at a crossroads. Two paths - a European democratic Belarus or a "de jure" Russian occupation, isolation and regression," said the leader of the democratic movement in Belarus.
She emphasized that the Belarusians had chosen the first path and hope for Latvia's help and support. Tsikhanouskaya called for the possibility of issuing visas and residence permits to Belarusians. According to her, this would help political refugees and Belarusian youth.
She also asked for an increase in the number of student scholarships, as well as for programs for Belarusian scientists, journalists and cultural figures. Tsikhanouskaya stressed that the representatives of the independent mass media and Belarusian cultural figures had opposed the authoritarian regime of Lukashenko and the propaganda of the Kremlin.
She also asked for support for small and medium-sized enterprises that have moved to Latvia. According to Tsikhanouskaya, many of them took part in the protests, so the regime is repressing them as well.
She called for an opportunity for young Belarusians to do an internship in the Saeima. Belarusian youth will use such experience in the future for the benefit of Belarus, Latvia and Europe.