Belarus opposition leader to meet White House officials next week

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Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was forced into exile after last year's disputed elections

Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya will meet with White House officials during her US visit next week, an administration official said Friday.

Mass anti-government demonstrations broke out in Belarus in August 2020 after President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron grip for nearly three decades, claimed a sixth term in power.

Tikhanovskaya, until then a stay-at-home mom, ran in place of her detained husband and claimed to have easily won but allegations of fraud mushroomed and Lukashenko declared himself the winner.

Tikhanovskaya was forced to choose exile and now lives in Lithuania.

"The world has been inspired by the Belarusian people -- including the Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya -- who continue to bravely demand a meaningful voice in their country's future in the face of cruel repression," the US official said.

"Senior officials at the White House look forward to meeting Ms Tikhanovskaya next week when she is in Washington. The United States stands with her and the people of Belarus, and will continue to support their democratic aspirations," the official said.

Belarus on Friday jailed 11 university students and raided the homes of 18 journalists in a continuing crackdown on the opposition.

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