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FAC to hear from leader of Belarusian opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, on Belarus regime and Ryanair Flight

11 June 2021

On Tuesday 15 June, at 2.30pm, the Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a one-off evidence session on the current situation in Belarus, with the intention of making recommendations to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) after the session.

The session will discuss the re-directed Ryanair Flight and the arrest of a prominent journalist and his partner. The Committee will explore the possible international and FCDO response. Additionally, the session will examine the wider context of the Lukashenka regime and its Russian backers, the disputed election of August 2020 and the subsequent mass detention of protestors, repression of the media and allegations of human rights abuse.

The Committee will hear from three panels of expert witnesses, including the leader of the opposition in Belarus and former Prime Minister of Lithuania.

Victoria Fedorova and Professor Philippe Sands QC will comprise the first panel. Ms Fedorova is currently Head of Legal Initiative at the Belarusian Human Rights NGO and is responsible for the coordination of the work of the International Committee for the investigation of torture in Belarus. Professor Sands serves as Professor of public understanding of law at University College London, and Samuel and Judith Pisar Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is also the president of English PEN.

Andrius Kubilius MEP and Dr Nigel Gould-Davies will appear as the second panel. Andrius Kubilius MEP is former Prime Minister of Lithuania and a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament. Dr Gould-Davies serves as a Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and editor of Strategic Survey: The Annual Assessment of Geopolitics. Prior to his work at IISS, Professor Sands worked for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office as Ambassador to Belarus and head of the economics department in Moscow.

The session will conclude with leader of the Belarusian opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. During the election campaign, Ms Tsikhanouskaya became the face of change in Belarus and joined forces with Veronika Tsepkalo and Maria Kolesnikova. The European Parliament recognised the fight of Belarusian people for democracy and freedom led by Tsikhanouskaya by awarding her, among other leaders, the prestigious annual Sakharov Prize. She has also received a series of international awards for her courageous struggle against the authoritarian regime of Lukashenka (GLOBSEC Freedom award; 2020 Prize of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience; Politiken Freedom Prize).

Witnesses

Tuesday 15 June

At 2.30pm

Panel 1:

  • Victoria Fedorova, Head of Legal Initiative
  • Professor Philippe Sands QC, Professor of public understanding of law at University College London

Panel 2:

  • Andrius Kubilius MEP, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament
  • Dr Nigel Gould-Davies, Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies

Panel 3:

  • Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Leader of the Belarusian opposition

Further information

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