How to Save Democracy, with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Merlijn Geurts
Joline Vermeulen
Yoeri Albrecht
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This program is in English.

We are rejoiced to announce the coming of Belarus’ democratic leader: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, broadly seen as the winner of the August 9, 2020 presidential elections. Since her exile, she’s visited more than 26 countries to gather support, and spread her experience about democratic decay – a gradual decline in the quality of democracy.

How can we recognize state-led weakening of political institutions that sustain the democratic system? What is the proper way to act on infringement of individual rights, such as freedom of expression? What you don’t know, you don’t see.

Russia is invading Ukraine via former Belarus’ borders, and autocratic leader Lukashenko is a pawn in Putin’s game to break democracy. Meanwhile, sanctions are being imposed on Russia, throughout the whole of Europe. But is this enough to stop Putin’s hunger for territory? What’s the bigger story to this war?

About the speaker

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is seen by Belarusians as the winner of the August 9, 2020 presidential election and leader of the democratic opposition. She came on the scene when her husband expressed his presidential aspirations and was arrested by dictator Alexander Lukashenko. As leader of the Belarusian democratic movement, she’s fighting for the deposition of Lukashenko, democratization of Belarus and in the meantime warning the West about the loss of democracy.

This year’s international Roosevelt Four Freedom Awards will be presented to her. After the elections, Tsikhanouskaya filed a formal complaint with the Central Election Commission, but was detained for seven hours in retaliation. Fleeing to Lithuania in fear of repercussion, her fight for democracy began. Inspiring unprecedented peaceful protests in Belarus, some rallies attracting at least 200,000 people. In doing so, she is calling for the release of more than 1116 political prisoners and a peaceful seizure of power through free and fair elections.


Sviatlana TsikhanouskayaLeader of the Belarus’ democratic opposition