The US is considering stepping up technological assistance to Belarus’ opposition, the country’s exiled opposition leader said Friday after a meeting with US officials in Washington.
“I was assured of full support for the Belarusian democratic movement,” said Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled Belarus after the 2020 election. “We also spoke about providing Belarusian journalists and activists with equipment and technology.”
The US has a long history of helping activists and protesters with technology in foreign countries it seeks to influence. One way this is done is through the Open Technology Fund (OTF), which is funded by the US Agency for Global Media. The OTF focuses on providing protesters with tools to avoid surveillance and get around internet censorship.
On Thursday, Tikhanovskaya met with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. According to the State Department, Sherman “emphasized the United States’ enduring support for the Belarusian people’s democratic aspirations.”
Since the August 2020 election in Belarus that saw President Alexander Lukashenko win another term, the US and the EU have rejected the results and imposed sanctions on Minsk. Tikhanovskaya, who has been living in Lithuania, claims to have won the election, and the US has shown strong support for the opposition leader.
As a result of the Western pressure, Lukashenko has naturally grown closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The stronger relationship no doubt played a major factor in Belarus’ decision to allow Russia to use its territory to invade Ukraine.