Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




World Leaders Forum: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Leader of Belarusian Democratic Forces
Reserve Your Seat (CUID Only)

Important Note

Online registration is required and open to current students, faculty, and staff from Columbia University, Barnard College, and Teachers College. These events will also be livestreamed on World Leaders Forum and Columbia University’s YouTube channel.

Please join the World Leaders Forum, the Center for Global Economic Governance, and the Harriman Institute for a conversation with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of Belarusian democratic forces. Moderated by Alexander Cooley, Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College; 15th Director of the Harriman Institute.

Columbia University students are invited to participate in a moderated question and answer session following the discussion.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is the leader of Belarusian democratic forces who beat the autocratic president Aliaksandr Lukashenka in a presidential election on August 9th, 2020, according to independent observers. She stepped into the race after her husband was arrested for his presidential aspirations. Lukashenka publically dismissed her as a “housewife,” сlaiming that a woman can’t become president. Tsikhanouskaya united Belarusian democratic forces together with two other leaders – Maria Kalesnikava and Veranika Tsapkala. After her forced exile, Tsikhanouskaya inspired unprecedented peaceful protests around Belarus, some of which numbered hundreds of thousands of people. She visited more than 20 countries gathering support for free Belarus. She advocates for the release of 500+ political prisoners and peaceful changes through a free and fair election. In her meetings with Chancellor Merkel, President Macron, President von der Leyen, President Charles Michel, and other world leaders, she emphasized the need for a braver response to the actions of the Belarusian dictatorship. Tsikhanouskaya became a symbol of peaceful struggle for democracy and female leadership.  Among dozens of other distinctions, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is a recipient of the Sakharov Prize awarded by the European Parliament. In 2020, Lithuanian President Nauseda and Norwegian MPs nominated her for the Nobel Peace Prize. She is included in Bloomberg’s TOP-50 Most Influential People, Financial Times’ Top 12 Most Influential Women, and POLITICO’s Top 28 Most Influential Europeans.

Image and biography: Office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, September 2022


Event Video