Washington plans to launch a strategic dialogue with the "democratic movement" of Belarus by the end of the year. This was reported to the former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya by the first Deputy Secretary of State of the United States Wendy Sherman. Information about their meeting, which took place recently in Washington, was published on the official website of the State Department.

The statement notes that the deputy head of the department expressed "the unwavering commitment of the United States to support the aspirations of the Belarusian people for a democratic, sovereign and stable future."

"Ms. Sherman also informed Ms. Tikhanovskaya of the US intention to launch a comprehensive strategic dialogue with the Belarusian democratic movement and civil society starting from the end of 2023," the US Foreign Ministry stressed.

According to a statement from the State Department, Sherman and Tikhanovskaya expressed hope that the strategic dialogue would bring together U.S. government agencies interested in working with Belarus and "a wide range of Belarusian democratic figures."

Working with the opposition

On Wednesday, March 22, at a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington is studying the possibility of appointing a special representative for interaction with the Belarusian opposition.

"We are very actively considering the possibility of advancing the issue (of appointment. — RT) special representative for Belarus. Now I am studying the option that some senior official in our Bureau for European Affairs also perform the functions of a special representative, having the opportunity to move back and forth and interact with the opposition at a high level, even taking into account the fact that the group for Belarusian affairs working in Lithuania is engaged in daily contacts," Blinken said.

According to him, this appointment will happen "very soon", however, when exactly and who can take this post, the head of the State Department did not specify.

Recall, the United States and Western countries intensified their support for the Belarusian opposition after the presidential elections of 2020, in which Svetlana Tikhanovskaya lost to Alexander Lukashenko. Then, according to the official data of the CEC of the republic, the incumbent head of state during the voting scored 80.1% of the vote, and Tikhanovskaya - 10.1%.

The opposition refused to recognize the results of the elections, accusing the authorities of falsifying the results of the vote, and Tikhanovskaya declared herself the winner. Mass protests broke out in the country, which escalated into riots and clashes with law enforcement officers.

The leadership of the United States and a number of European countries also did not recognize the results of the elections. Several packages of personal and sectoral economic sanctions were imposed on the republic, allegedly in connection with "violation of human rights in Belarus, repressions against civil society, the democratic opposition and journalists."

  • Svetlana Tikhanovskaya at a meeting with US President Joe Biden in 2021
  • AFP
  • © The White House

Later, Tikhanovskaya left Belarus, leaving for Lithuania. On her initiative, the so-called Coordinating Council of the Opposition was created, which stated its goal of ensuring the transfer of power in Belarus. As "leader of the opposition," she is in contact with Western politicians. In particular, on July 23, 2021, she met with Anthony Blinken and The President's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, to whom she asked to increase sanctions pressure on Belarus and actively support the "independent" media. A few days later, Tikhanovskaya met with the US president. Joe Biden made no promises to her, but assured that "the United States supports the people of Belarus in their quest for democracy and universal human rights."

On March 6, 2023, the Minsk City Court found Tikhanovskaya guilty of several charges, including treason and conspiracy to seize power in the state, and sentenced her in absentia to 15 years in prison.

Destabilization of Belarus

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly accused the West of financing the opposition and trying to use it to destabilize the situation in the country. In early February of this year, at a meeting with the Prosecutor General of the Republic Andrei Shved, the Belarusian leader noted that the collective West has not abandoned this idea and will finance oppositionists abroad to attract them to radical activities.

"Now they are sitting on the lack of money. The West will finance only specific activities, preferably of a radical plan and not even at the level of 2020. Overthrow, assassination of the president, officials... That is, everyone who stood across the throat, remove everyone. This will be financed by the West," Lukashenka said.

  • Protests in Belarus in 2020
  • AP

According to the president, now the collective West does not allocate too much money for the maintenance of belarusian oppositionists, so some of the radicals went to fight on the side of Ukraine. However, the oppositionists abroad demonstrate their determination to commit various provocations and terrorist attacks in the country, Lukashenka stressed.

"Here they are shouting that 'a million from Belarus have fled, here they are in Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine', like hyenas, standing along the perimeter and clicking their teeth. There are no millions there. Someone calls 2 thousand people, someone - up to 4 thousand. But they confirm their determination and the ability to do something here, up to serious terrorist attacks," the Belarusian president said.

In a comment to RT, the expert of the International Institute for Humanitarian and Political Studies Vladimir Bruter said that the invitation of Tikhanovskaya to a meeting with the deputy head of the US State Department demonstrates that the Biden administration is still interested in destabilizing the situation and changing the government in Belarus.

"Democratic movement" and "civil society" are just names. In fact, we are talking about a fifth column. Washington is serious about creating such structures in all countries where the United States is interested in regime change," the expert said.

In his opinion, judging by the latest statements of Anthony Blinken and his deputy for Belarus Wendy Sherman, the establishment of a "strategic dialogue" with the Belarusian opposition will imply the intensification of work to support them as a tool to destabilize the republic.

"The State Department takes time until the end of the year to clarify who should be given money and who should not, through which channels to do this and what channels of support can be used directly in Belarus," the political scientist stressed.

At the same time, the final role of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in this process has not yet been determined, the expert believes.

"Representatives of the United States are still meeting with someone who is known on this track, not because it is Tikhanovskaya who will lead something. The United States makes decisions on such issues at the last moment and on the basis of principles known only to itself. Very often it happens that this choice is unsuccessful. For example, the case of Guaido in Venezuela: they themselves appointed, they removed themselves, because he did not suit them, "said Bruter.

In turn, political scientist Andrei Manoylo expressed the opinion that tikhanovskaya's meeting with the deputy head of the US State Department is a signal sent to official Minsk.

"This is a provocation against Alexander Lukashenko. The United States is thus threatening him, simulating preparations for a new coup attempt. If contacts begin with Tikhanovskaya, who has already tried to organize a coup d'état, then the same thing is being prepared now. This is done in order to intimidate Minsk, since in the current security situation in Europe, Belarus is the main military-political ally of Russia, "the expert explained in a comment to RT.

It is obvious that the United States is stepping up activities in this direction and wants to "revive the situation," Manoylo believes. "The Americans, obviously, did not abandon the idea of removing Lukashenka by force through protests," the political scientist added.

At the same time, the expert also doubts that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya will retain her status as the "leader of the Belarusian democrats".

"She's already tried to play her game and lost. Due to the fact that she sat outside Belarus for a long time, she lost touch with those elements who are dissatisfied with the Lukashenka administration. It is not known what kind of support she has now. Pulling her out for the role of leader will be costly, and Americans do not spend money just like that. Most likely, they will look for a new figure for the role of the leader of the Belarusian "street", "the RT interlocutor concluded.