Washington — U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) Acting CEO Kelu Chao met with Belarusian democratic leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya today at the agency’s headquarters to discuss press freedom and the vital role USAGM networks play in Belarus.
“I share Ms. Tsikhanouskaya’s concern about the deterioration of press freedom in Belarus and made clear USAGM’s commitment to continue providing audiences there with unbiased, fact-based news and reporting,” said Chao. “I’m grateful for her insights into the future of a democratic Belarus.”
Ms. Tsikhanouskaya called the meeting “fruitful” and thanked Acting CEO Chao for the coverage provided by USAGM networks in Belarus and the world.
“I admire the courage and professionalism of independent journalists in Belarus, including RFE/RL, who became the real target for the regime,” she said. “We need to do everything possible to release dozens of jailed media workers and make sure that the people of Belarus have access to truthful information – from supporting media to providing circumvention tools to Belarusians.”
Tsikhanouskaya is a recipient of the Sakharov Prize awarded by the European Parliament and was nominated by the Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda for the Nobel Peace Prize. She is in Washington to meet with members of Congress, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Powers, and other government officials.
Her visit to USAGM headquarters comes just days after witnesses said state security officials broke through the door at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Minsk office and stormed the homes of its journalists, detaining three. The July 16 raid and detentions are part of a larger effort by Belarusian authorities to shut down independent media outlets and human rights organizations following mass protests over allegations of widespread election fraud. In response, Tsikhanouskaya tweeted “the regime destroys every media that dares to tell the truth about the situation in Belarus.”
Numerous RFE/RL Belarus Service journalists have been harassed, detained, jailed, and stripped of their accreditations since the controversial August 2020 presidential election. RFE/RL social media consultant Ihar Losik has been detained since June 2020 on false charges.
“Supporters of a free press must unite to stop the reprehensible media repression we are seeing in Belarus,” Chao added. “And all detained journalists must be released immediately.”
Find out more
Contact Office of Public Affairs