Andrei Sannikov, 56, worked in the UN Secretariat in New York in the 1980s and then graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of the USSR Foreign Ministry in Moscow just before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Afterward, he served as an adviser in the Belarusian mission to Switzerland and as deputy foreign minister before resigning in 1996 to protest a constitutional referendum that expanded the president’s powers. In 1997, he co-founded Charter 97, a dissident human rights group modeled on Charter 77 in then-Czechoslovakia. The group hosts one of the most popular Belarusian news web pages.
Eleven years later Sannikov launched the European Belarus campaign, which aims to work toward the standards that would allow Belarus to enter the EU. He opposes European efforts to engage with the Lukashenka regime. His wife, a well-known Belarusian journalist, has been subjected to searches and harassment.
Recently, Sannikov has also been in the press because of the death of Oleg Bebenin, a close friend, co-founder of Charter 97, and a leader of Sannikov’s presidential campaign.