The exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has asked the United States for tighter sanctions on businesses in her country in hopes of forcing them away from veteran strongman Alexander Lukashenko.
Tikhanovskaya is on a visit to Washington as President Joe Biden's administration vows to step up pressure on the pro-Moscow Belarusian leader. She claims to have won last year's election in which Lukashenko said he secured a sixth term.
Tikhanovskaya presented a list of companies on which she hopes the United States can impose further sanctions in a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday. Tikhanovskaya said that she hoped for further sanctions against state-controlled companies in the areas of potash, oil, wood, and steel.
"We understand that only Belarusians themselves can bring the country to democratic changes but we hope for American active and non-symbolic participation," AFP quoted Tikhanovskaya as saying to a roundtable of the State Department Correspondents' Association.
"President Biden says that the world is struggling between autocracy and democracy. So the frontline of this struggle is in Belarus at the moment. As a champion of democracy, the USA can help get things done. Businesses will be forced to understand that Lukashenko is over and they have to choose to join a new, transparent country," she said.
"We know that sanctions are a powerful tool and one that the United States continues to use in an effort to change the behavior of the Lukashenko regime. We stand with the people of Belarus and members of civil society. We support their aspirations for a democratic, free and prosperous future," Price was quoted as saying by AFP.
Tikhanovskaya said the loopholes in EU sanctions that allowed existing contracts with international companies to go ahead should end.
"Most of the international enterprises are afraid of USA sanctions first of all and even the threat of new sanctions -- new European sanctions or USA sanctions -- can influence the behavior of Lukashenko," she said.
On Tuesday, Tikhanovskaya met with Biden's national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, as well as members of Congress.
Previously a stay-at-home mother, Tikhanovskaya ran in place of her husband who was detained before the election. She fled to Lithuania for safety as security forces crackdown on protests.