2024 Democracy Service Medal—Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya


NED is honoring Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of Free Belarus, with the Democracy Service Medal for her unparalleled leadership and personal sacrifice to defend democracy over authoritarianism.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is the national leader of Belarus, the head of the United Transition Cabinet, and the president-elect of Belarus. Independent observers agree that she won the presidential election on August 9, 2020 against the long-lasting dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka. Tsikhanouskaya entered the race after her husband Siarhei Tsikhanousky was arrested for voicing his presidential aspirations. Lukashenka publicly dismissed her as a “housewife,” saying that a woman cannot become president, but Tsikhanouskaya successfully united the democratic coalition. Following her forced exile, Tsikhanouskaya inspired unprecedented peaceful protests in Belarus. When the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine started, Tsikhanouskaya led the anti-war movement to prevent the participation of Belarus in the war. As leader of the Belarusian democratic movement, she has advocated for the release of more than 1500 Belarusian political prisoners and a peaceful transition of power through free and fair elections. Tsikhanouskaya is a recipient of the Sakharov Prize, the 2022 International Four Freedoms Award, and the Charlemagne Prize.



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