Despite the presence of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in Washington for 10 days, White House correspondents were never sure whether the former Belarus presidential candidate and opposition leader would get a much-hoped-for meeting with President Joe Biden.
She finally had her meeting on Wednesday morning. The news was confirmed by the president himself on Twitter.
''I was honored to meet with @Tsihanouskaya at the White House this morning,'' Biden tweeted. ''The United States stands with the people of Belarus in their quest for democracy and universal human rights.''
The statement, which is what Tikhanovskaya had clearly been hoping for, gives a major boost in her crusade to overturn what she and many observers worldwide considered a rigged election in 2020 in which she lost to strongman President Alexander Lukashenko.
Lukashenko subsequently cracked down on protests, and Tikhanovskaya, 38, and her young children fled Belarus for exile in neighboring Lithuania. When her candidate-husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, was jailed during the campaign, she took his place in the campaign and said she ran ''out of love.''
Her husband remains in prison.
Although the U.S. and the European Union have already imposed sanctions on Belarus, Tikhanovskaya told Secretary of State Antony Blinken at an earlier meeting that she wanted strong sanctions specifically on oil, steel and other companies controlled by Lukashenko ''and his cronies.''
Earlier this week, The Washington Post wrote a hard-hitting editorial urging the president to meet with Tikhanovskaya.
On Wednesday, while she was meeting with national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Biden "briefly dropped by their meeting," according to a senior administration official. The official emphasized that the meeting was not in the Oval Office.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.