Andrei Sannikov was born in 1952 in Belarus. He studied linguistics, with a concentration in English and French. He graduated from the Minsk State University of Foreign Languages, which is today Minsk State Linguistic University. After completing his studies Andrei Sannikov began working for an oil company in Pakistan and Egypt. From 1979 until 1981 he worked in the Society of Friendship with Foreign Countries. From 1982 until 1987 he worked for the UN secretariat in New York.
In 1989, he graduated from the diplomatic academy of the foreign ministry of the USSR in Moscow. After Belarus became an independent country in 1993, Andrei Sannikov became the adviser of the Belarus mission in Switzerland. He later received the rank of ambassador, and from 1992 to 1995 he was the leader of the Belarusian delegation at disarmament talks on nuclear and conventional weapons. Over the course of the next few years Sannikov became a foreign minister for Belarus. However, in the year of his appointment, he stepped down in protest against the abolition of the separation of powers in the Belarusian government.
In 1997 Sannikov was one of the founders of the citizens group Charter 97 and was their first international coordinator. In 1998, together with Gennady Karpenka, he established the Coordinating Council of Belarusian Democratic Forces. This organization advises the democratic powers in Belarus. As a professional diplomat he advocates a democratic and independent Belarus that recognizes human rights standards.
From 1998 until 2002 Sannikov served as chancellor of the development projects as the Peoples University. He was one of the leading organizers for Stop Fascism also known as For a better life. He participated in demonstrations against the falsification of voting results in 2001, 2004, 2006, and 2008. Due to his political activities he has been imprisoned, and the victim of torture at the hands of his own government. In 2008 he led the civil campaign European Belarus along with Victor Ivashkevich, Mihail Marinich and other noteworthy politicians. The main goal of this group is for Belarus to join the European Union.
In March of 2010 Sannikov announced his intentions to run for the presidency. In 2011 Sannikov as well as his wife Irina Khalip, a journalist, were imprisoned after a brutal police attack on a demonstration. They were demonstrating yet again against corruption in the presidential election.
They were condemn for 5 years of imprisonment. Amnesty International still called for his immediate release as the NGO suspects he might be subject to torture. he was pardoned and release in 2012 by President Lukashenko. Sannikov immediately called for the release of the remainder political prisonners. In 2005 Andrei Sannikov, the opposition politician and civil rights advocate was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Prize for his untiring efforts for a democratic, independent Belarus.