WASHINGTON, August 25. /TASS/. US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun met with former Belarusian presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in Lithuania’s capital and discussed with her strengthening democracy and human rights in the country, the State Department said in a statement.
"The Deputy Secretary also met with Belarusian opposition leader [Svetlana Tikhanovskaya] to discuss the situation in Belarus and how civil society can strengthen democracy and human rights in the country. The Deputy Secretary affirmed the U.S. commitment to Belarus’ sovereignty and territorial integrity and to the sovereign right of its people to elect their own leaders and determine their own future," the statement said.
Biegun also met with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius, Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis, and other officials to "discuss the situation in Belarus, countering threats posed by Russia and the People’s Republic of China, and the promotion of human rights and democracy."
Earlier, the State Department’s press service stated that Biegun was due to pay a visit to Russia, Lithuania and Ukraine on August 24-27.
Belarus has been hit by mass protests after the August 9 presidential election. The protesters challenged the outcome of the vote. During the first day of riots, the protesters clashed with police. Over 6,000 people were detained, dozens of police officers and protesters were injured. According to the final data of the Central Election Commission, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won 80.10% of the vote. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was considered as his key rival, garnered 10.12% of the vote. She did not recognize the outcome of the polls and fled to Lithuania. The Coordination Council set up by the opposition calls to continue protests. The authorities demand the end of illegal rallies.