Europe isn’t the power Tsikhanouskaya is pinning her hopes on, though—that’s the United States. Although Washington has condemned Lukashenko’s human-rights abuses and leveled sanctions against his allies, the response from Donald Trump’s White House has been rather muted—something his successor has already pledged to change.
“We’re really waiting for Biden,” Tsikhanouskaya said, adding that her primary requests will include further economic pressure (this time targeting Lukashenko’s business interests), financial assistance for Belarusian civil society, and support in investigating crimes against humanity in Belarus under the principle of universal jurisdiction (as is already being done by Lithuania).
Counting on the U.S. isn’t without risk. The past four years have seen the country take a step back from its traditional role of defending liberal values and human rights. With a worsening public-health crisis dominating the attention of the incoming administration, who’s to say that the U.S. can be regarded as a reliable defender of democracy abroad? “I believe that the U.S.A. can be the crucial player in this fight,” Tsikhanouskaya said. “Everybody realizes the strength and greatness of the U.S.A. and the role it plays in the world arena.”