Veronika Tsepkalo

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Veronika Tsepkalo
Вероника Цепкало
Вераніка Цапкала
Tsepkalo in 2020
Born (1976-09-07) 7 September 1976 (age 47)
Alma materBelarus State Economic University
Occupation(s)Business manager, political activist
SpouseValery Tsepkalo

Veronika Valeryevna Tsepkalo or Veranika Valereuna Tsapkala (Russian: Вероника Валерьевна Цепкало; Belarusian: Вераніка Валер’еўна Цапкала; born 7 September 1976) is a Belarusian political activist.

Early life[edit]

Tsepkalo's mother is Evgenia Shesterikova, sister is Natalya Leonyuk. Her grandfather Peter Shesterikov, was a writer, who has a street name in Mogilev named in his memory.[citation needed]

In 1998, Tsepkalo graduated from the Faculty of International Relations of the Belarus State University with a degree in International Relations. In 2004–2006 she studied at the Higher School of Management and Business of the Belarusian State Economic University. In 2008, she studied at the National Institute of Small and Medium Enterprises in Hyderabad, India.[citation needed]

Tsepkalo works as a business development manager for Microsoft.[citation needed]

2020 election activism[edit]

When Tsepkalo's husband Valery Tsepkalo (a former Belarusian ambassador to the United States) announced his participation in the 2020 Belarusian presidential election, Tsepkalo accompanied him on his trips. On 14 July 2020, Valery was denied registration as a presidential candidate in Belarus. Soon after that, the three chief opposition candidates—Valery Tsepkalo, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, and Viktar Babaryka–united their campaigns. Since the unification of these campaigns, Veronica became her husband's representative at the campaign rallies of Tikhanovskaya, while Valery and his children left the country fearing for their safety.[1] In addition, throughout the campaign, Veronica was constantly under pressure from the government: from collecting information in the school where children study.[2] Her sister Natalia Leonyuk was summoned to testify against Valery Tsepkalo.[3]

On 30 July 2020, during a rally in Minsk, Veronica spoke about the personal affairs of her family, and cited the falsification of a criminal case against her mother, who at that time was already in a serious medical condition.[4] Fearing the loss of her freedom as a result of political persecution, she fled the country on the eve of the 2020 Belarusian presidential election, joining her husband in Moscow. She cast her vote at the Belarusian embassy in Moscow.[5]

Following the rigged August 2020 presidential election, in which incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko declared victory, Tsepkalo said that the "only legitimate President is Svetlana Tikhanovskaya" and called upon other countries to recognize Tikhanovsakaya as the legitimately elected president of Belarus.[6][7]

On 19 August 2020, it was reported that Tsepkalo was in Poland with her husband and children.[8] Tsepkalo and her family remain in exile in Poland.[7][9]


The International Republican Institute (IRI) honored Tsepkalo with its John S. McCain Freedom Award (2020),[10] and its Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award (2021); the latter award recognizes contributions to the advancement of women in politics and civil society.[11] She received the German Lutherstadt's Das unerschrockene Wort ("The intrepid word") prize (2021)[12]

In 2021, the European Parliament honored the democratic Belarusian opposition by collectively awarding it the 2020 Sakharov Prize; Tsepkalo was one of the representatives of the honorees.[13]

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Maria Kolesnikova, and Tsepkalo were awarded the Csoklich Democracy Prize by the Styria Media Group in 2021.[14] The same three Belarusian opposition leaders were awarded the International Association of Political Consultants Democracy Medal (2021),[15] and the Charlemagne Prize (2022).[16]


  1. ^ Вероника Цепкало в Речице рассказала, как правоохранительные органы занялись ее детьми. TUT.BY (in Belarusian). 2020-07-26. Archived from the original on 2021-05-07.
  2. ^ Вероника Цепкало рассказала, почему её муж и дети уехали в Россию (in Belarusian). 2020-07-29. Archived from the original on 2021-05-07.
  3. ^ Калинина, Надежда (2020-07-30). Сестру Вероники Цепкало опрашивали по заявлению Цепкало против бизнесмена Игдеджи. TUT.BY (in Belarusian). Archived from the original on 2021-05-09.
  4. ^ Борисевич, Катерина; Зайцева, Анжелика (2020-07-31). "Хотели привязать ее к взрыву". Про какое уголовное дело мамы, плача, рассказала на митинге Вероника Цепкало. TUT.BY (in Belarusian). Archived from the original on 2021-02-04.
  5. ^ Жена Валерия Цепкало покинула Белоруссию. Коммерсантъ (in Russian). 2020-08-09. Archived from the original on 2022-05-26. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  6. ^ Цепкало призвала другие страны признать Тихановскую законным президентом. РБК (in Russian). 2020-08-11. Archived from the original on 2022-05-26. Retrieved 2022-05-27.
  7. ^ a b Luke McGee, These three women stood up to Europe's longest-serving dictator. Here's what happened to them, CNN (September 8, 2020).
  8. ^ PAP/jch/mf (2020-08-19). "Belarusian opposition figure Veronica Tsepkalo arrives in Poland". News & Politics. Archived from the original on 2022-05-26. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  9. ^ Belarus crackdown: opponents jailed or forced into exile, AFP (October 17, 2022).
  10. ^ "Secretary Pompeo Leads Celebration of Freedom at IRI's Annual Award Ceremony". International Republican Institute. 2020-10-13. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  11. ^ "IRI Celebrates the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award Honorees". IRI. 2021-09-27. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  12. ^ "Lutherpreis "Das unerschrockene Wort"" (in German). Archytele. 2021-11-07. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  13. ^ "Belarusian opposition receives 2020 Sakharov Prize". EU Affairs. European Parliament. 2020-12-16. Archived from the original on 2022-05-26. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  14. ^ "Styria-Verlag honors Belarusian opposition leaders with the Fritz Csoklich Democracy Prize". Archytele. 2021-11-23. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  15. ^ "International Association of Political Consultants Democracy Medal Presented to Women of Belarus at recent ceremony". International Association of Political Consultants. 2021-11-24. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  16. ^ "Karlspreis 2022" (in German). Stiftung Internationaler Karlspreis zu Aachen. 2022-05-26. Archived from the original on 2022-05-26. Retrieved 2022-05-26.