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The US Congress figured out how to punish Lukashenka

In a bipartisan bill of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Lukashenka’s regime was declared illegal, and also indicated the subversive role of the Russian authorities, writes "Voice of America".

Photo: Shutterstock

On Wednesday evening, September 30, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives presented a draft law called the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignity Act.

The committee is known to include representatives from both leading parties: Chairman Eliot Engel (D), Michael McCall (R), Chris Smith (R), Marcy Captur (R), William Keating (D) and Adam Kinzinger (R).

As stated on the committee's website, the proposed bill is the response of the congressmen to "political repression and violent suppression by the Lukashenka regime [of popular protests in Belarus]."

"The act is intended to contribute," the committee members said in a statement, "to the establishment of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Belarus, as well as to support the striving of the Belarusian people to preserve the independence and sovereignty of their country in the face of the threat from Putin's Russia."

“This bill,” says the leader of the Republicans in the committee, Michael McCall, “sends an unambiguous signal to the Belarusian dictator and those who support him in the Kremlin, a signal that the United States will never accept Lukashenka’s illegitimate power and will not allow the sovereignty of Belarus was handed over to Russia against the will of the Belarusian people ”.

Congressman Chris Smith explained: “The world understands that the unyielding and courageous people of Belarus since August 9, through mass protests, loudly and clearly declares: the last elections are rigged and do not deserve the trust of anyone except Lukashenka and, perhaps, Russia.”

The appeal also lists the main points of this bipartisan bill, which:

  • rejects the rigged results of the presidential elections in Belarus on August 9;
  • refuses to recognize Lukashenko as the legally elected leader of the country;
  • calls for the holding of new presidential elections in accordance with OSCE norms;
  • demands the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience in Belarus, including US citizen Vitaly Shklyarov and opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova;
  • refuses to recognize any integration of Belarus into the so-called "union state" together with Russia and under its control;
  • requires the US Secretary of State to submit to Congress, with the assistance of the US Director of National Intelligence, two reports: on Russia's efforts to undermine the sovereignty and independence of Belarus and on monetary and other assets held by Alexander Lukashenko;
  • strengthens the existing sanctions regime against Belarus - adds to it Russian individuals involved in political repression and persecution of independent media in Belarus.

Meanwhile, some American senators representing the Democratic Party have addressed a collective letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to urge the Trump administration to take real action to support the people of Belarus and the democratic future of this country. This was announced on Twitter by Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein from California.

The letter was signed by Jeff Merkley, Patrick Leahy, Richard Durbin, Chris Van Hollen, Edward Markey, Gene Shaheen, Corey Booker and Diane Feinstein.

On the subject: 'Forget about the great empire': Belarusians in the United States urged Putin to abandon support for Lukashenka

Senators' letter to Mike Pompeo follows more than 50 days of protests in Belarus over a rigged presidential election. The protests, as has been reported more than once, are accompanied by repressions by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko and mass arrests.

“Rather than agreeing with the fraudulent election results“ drawn ”by the dictator, the Belarusian people have taken to the streets and demand a democratic process that reflects the will of the people. Peaceful protests (both large and small) take place every day after the elections. Despite the peaceful nature of the rallies, the protesters were greeted with brutal repression by the security services, unjustified arrests, blocking of information, harassment and persecution of civil society representatives perpetrated by [regime] Alexander Lukashenko in the Soviet style, ”the letter says.

Senators expressed solidarity with the Belarusian people and support for journalists, many of whom were harassed, attacked and even imprisoned.

The authors of the letter called on the State Department to take a number of steps to provide tangible support to Belarusians, including making an official statement that the presidential elections in Belarus were rigged and calling on official Minsk to hold new, fair and legal elections.

Senators also call for an accelerated imposition of sanctions against human rights violators, a freeze of their assets and a ban on the entry of these people into the United States, as well as "immediately stop all financial, charitable and technical assistance to the government of Belarus." But, at the same time, they propose to study the possibility of providing humanitarian assistance to victims of repression by the state.

The authors of the letter also condemned Russia, which is helping the Lukashenka regime in strengthening propaganda, providing him with financial resources and assistance in the security sphere. Thus, Moscow is acting in the interests of strengthening Lukashenka's power and continuing oppression of the Belarusian people, the letter says.

Expert Comments

  • Ales Bialiatski: “Russian troops practically never leave Belarus”

The chairman of the human rights center “Viasna” (Minsk) Ales Bialiatski got acquainted with the content of the draft law and believes that everything there is “reasonable and correct”. According to him, the document correctly places emphasis on the gross violations of human rights in Belarus and the geopolitical situation in connection with the events in the republic.

“Of course, Russia is now very keen to influence the development of events in Belarus,” he added in a comment to the Russian service of the Voice of America. - And the support that Putin provides directly to Lukashenka naturally affects our internal situation. Today (from Moscow) massive assistance to the regime has been organized - financial, political and militarized. We have endless military exercises, and Russian troops practically do not get out of Belarus. "

In addition, the human rights activist recalled, shortly after the presidential elections, in particular on September 9, the Kremlin announced the introduction “if necessary” into the territory of Belarus of some Russian security forces, the human rights activist recalled: “As you can understand, to help our black shirts who mocked people, tortured them. So this is, of course, a real threat to the country's sovereignty and democracy. Unfortunately, the Russian regime is authoritarian. And here it turns out that one authoritarian regime supports the other with all possible forces. "

Therefore, the act of American legislators gives an absolutely adequate assessment of the situation, says Ales Bialiatski. If such a law is adopted, “it will be cool,” he concluded.

  • Stanislav Shushkevich: "Our hope for a happy outcome of the struggle has increased even more"

Stanislav Shushkevich, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus, who signed the Belovezhskaya Agreements in 1991 as the head of the Republic of Belarus, approved the message about the initiative of American legislators. In his opinion, the US Congress is acting correctly with regard to the protection of human freedoms and democracy.

“However, in this connection we may have a very bad situation,” he said in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America. - Yes, the actions of Minsk and Moscow deserve the assessment given to them by the American congressmen. But the fact that they (the Russian and Belarusian authorities) are scolded together, as it were, enhances their mutual attraction, and they will unanimously accuse the United States of striving to cause discord between neighboring states. In any case, thanks to America, now our hope for a happy outcome of the struggle has increased even more. We will survive the unpleasant consequences ”.

Stanislav Shushkevich is convinced that the outrage that the "junta headed by Lukashenka" has perpetrated in the country can no longer be tolerated. Assessing the situation in the country, he admitted that due to his health, he is already a “poor walker” and does not attend protest events: “But my daughter and granddaughter go to them, who tell me everything. In general, the mood of those whom I know and with whom I am connected is cheerful. Although the confrontation continues. The government compulsorily organizes the processions of its supporters. They take them from all cities to Minsk, so that they can pass here and demonstrate their loyalty to Lukashenka. "

Today Minsk invests a lot of money in propaganda, the politician says.

“After all, Russia, having provided a loan of $ 1,5 billion, invested money not in the Belarusian economy. They will go to support forces that violate human rights and commit tyranny. The actions of the authorities have already resulted in the death of at least five people. " However, I think there were actually more victims, which should be confirmed sooner or later, ”concluded Stanislav Shushkevich.

On the subject: USA and EU did not recognize Lukashenko as legally elected President of Belarus

EU imposes sanctions against Belarus

The EU countries have agreed on sanctions against Belarus in connection with the situation in the country after the presidential elections in early August, writes Air force.

As announced on the night of Friday, October 2, the head of the European Council Charles Michel, the sanctions will be introduced in the very near future and will affect about 40 people. The current President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko is not currently included in this list.

“Tomorrow, according to a written procedure, we will implement the sanctions on Belarus. What is on the table is a list of about 40 persons, ”he said at a press conference following the first day of the EU summit.

Following the talks, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the inclusion of Alexander Lukashenko in the sanctions list could undermine efforts to involve him in the negotiation process. If the Belarusian president is unable to establish a dialogue with his own people, sanctions may be imposed on him personally, Macron added. Lukashenko was under EU sanctions until 2016.

Read also on ForumDaily:

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USA and EU did not recognize Lukashenko as legally elected President of Belarus

'Self-inauguration operation': Lukashenko secretly took office as President of Belarus

'I sat out, but I won't just leave': Lukashenko spoke about the situation in Belarus, Putin and Poroshenko

Miscellanea In the U.S. bill Belarus
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