On Wednesday evening, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives of the US Congress 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 website of the committee, the proposed bill is a response of congressmen to “political repression and violent suppression by the Lukashenka regime [народных протестов в Беларуси]».
“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 the illegitimate power of Lukashenka and will not allow the sovereignty of Belarus was handed over to Russia against the will of the Belarusian people ”.
Congressman Chris Smith also explains the following: “The world understands that the unyielding – and courageous – people of Belarus since August 9, through mass protests, loudly and clearly declares: the last elections were 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 in the possession of Alexander Lukashenko;
– reinforces the existing sanctions regime against Belarus, adding to it Russian individuals involved in political repression and persecution of independent media in Belarus.
Meanwhile, a number of American senators representing the Democratic Party have addressed a collective letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging the Trump administration to take real action to support the people of Belarus and the democratic future of this country.
Democratic Senator from California Diane Feinstein announced this on Wednesday on Twitter.
The letter was signed by Jeff Merkley, Patrick Leahy, Richard Durbin, Chris Van Hollen, Edward Markey, Gene Shaheen, Corey Booker and Diane Feinstein.
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 repression by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko and mass arrests.
“Rather than agreeing with the fraudulent election results“ drawn ”by the dictator, the Belarusian people took to the streets, demanding 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, protesters were greeted with brutal repression by the security services, unjustified arrests, information blocking, harassment and harassment of civil society representatives perpetrated by [режимом] Alexander Lukashenko in the Soviet style, ”the letter says.
Senators expressed solidarity with the people of Belarus 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 accelerated imposition of sanctions against violators of human rights travel, freeze assets and ban travel to the United States for these people, as well as “immediately stop all financial, charitable and technical assistance to the government of Belarus,” while exploring the possibility of providing humanitarian assistance to victims of repression from the state.
The authors of the letter also condemned Russia, which is helping the Lukashenka regime to increase propaganda by 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 the oppression of the Belarusian people, the letter says.