15 December 2018, Saturday, 4:11
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European Belarus leader in Washington

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The position of the United States towards Belarus can change only after democratic reforms start in the country, said European Belarus leader Andrei Sannikov after his visit to the US.

Andrei Sannikov had meetings with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Karen Stewart, a former US Ambassador to Belarus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dan Russel, and officers of the Department of State responsible for relations with Belarus.

As noted by Sannikov, “It was important to discuss the situation in Belarus ahead of the presidential elections and attitude of the United States towards the country. The US officials confirmed their position towards Belarus and noted they hadn’t seen any positive changes. That’s why the United States is not ready to discuss extending cooperation with the regime of Lukashenka. The US can change its approaches in the bilateral relations only after Belarus starts democratic reforms.”

“By the way, it turned out that head of Lukashenka’s Administration Makei didn’t pay a visit to the US. This seems to be a hoax spread by the authorities,” Sannikov noted.

The political and economic situation in Belarus, repressions against the civil society and independent journalists, the recent cases of harassment and initiating criminal cases against journalist and NGO members were discussed with leaders of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), German Marshall Fund (GMF), Atlantic Council of the United States, International Women’s Media Foundation, human rights activities, NGO representatives, journalists and the Belarusian Diaspora.

“Human rights issues are not mere words for the United States. As it is known, President Barack Obama has recently signed the bill to support journalists. At all meetings, the Americans expressed their solidarity and support to Belarusian journalists and freedom fighters,” Andrei Sannikov said.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dan Russel, right, with Andrei Sannikov and his wife Iryna Khalip

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Karen Stewart (second from the left), leader of We Remember civil initiative Iryna Krasouskaya, Andrei Sannikov and his wife Iryna Khalip