THE pro-democracy leader-in-exile of Belarus has praised Nicola Sturgeon for delivering  a “wonderful” speech to the SNP conference.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya – who is widely believed to have won the 2020 Belarusian elections before being forced into exile by the Russia-backed dictator Alexander Lukashenko – praised the First Minister after she addressed delegates in Aberdeen on Monday.

Speaking at the final day of the SNP’s first in-person conference since 2019, Sturgeon positioned herself in direct opposition to the rhetoric deployed by Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

READ MORE: These are the key points from Nicola Sturgeon's speech to SNP conference

Referencing the top Tory’s statement at her party’s conference the previous week, the First Minister said: “Even as I quote her, I struggle to comprehend that she actually said these words. But here they are: ‘I would love to be having a front page of The Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, it’s my obsession.’

“Conference, my dream is very different. I am sure it is shared in this hall and by the vast majority across Scotland.

“My dream is that we live in a world where those fleeing violence and oppression are shown compassion and treated like human beings, not shown the door and bundled on to planes like unwanted cargo.”

Sturgeon went on to highlight human rights abuses against women and girls in Iran and Afghanistan, before focusing on the war in Eastern Europe.

She said: “Those fighting across the globe for democracy, equality and human dignity must hear that they are not alone. So let the message go out from us to everyone across the world standing up against tyranny and oppression: We stand with you.

“To women in Iran fighting for basic human rights. We stand with you.

“To girls in Afghanistan demanding the right to go to school. We stand with you.

“To men and women risking their lives in opposition to [Vladimir] Putin in Russia, or his sidekick in Belarus [Lukashenko]. We stand with you.

“And to the people of Ukraine – fighting for your very existence. We stand with you.”

Responding to the speech, the Belarusian leader-in-exile Tsikhanouskaya thanked the SNP leader for standing with her in the fight against “tyranny and oppression”.

She wrote: “What a wonderful speech, @NicolaSturgeon. Thank you for standing with Belarusians fighting against tyranny and oppression!

“We met two weeks ago during my visit to Scotland and I know how deeply you care about the fate of our people.”

Tsikhanouskaya had visited Edinburgh at the end of September, meeting with Sturgeon and asking her to set up an internship scheme for Belarusians at the Scottish parliament.

READ MORE: Former Belarus political prisoner to perform at Scottish Parliament

After the visit, the First Minister’s official Twitter account posted: “At the Scottish Parliament today, First Minister @NicolaSturgeon met @Tsihanouskaya to discuss the fight for democracy, human rights and freedom in Belarus.”

Tsikhanouskaya also spoke at the Labour Party conference during her visit to the UK, using her address to say the fate of her country and neighbouring Ukraine are connected in the fight against Putin’s “Russian imperialism”.

Belarus’s Putin-backed dictator Lukashenko allowed his country to be used as a launch point for the invasion of its southern neighbour by Putin’s forces.

Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko addressed the SNP conference on its opening day, telling delegates that the fight against Russia was "to defend the very meaning of the concepts of freedom, democracy and human rights".