Portman, Colleagues Introduce Resolution Marking One-Year Anniversary of Fraudulent Belarus Elections, Reaffirm U.S. Support for Pro-Democracy Movement

August 9, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ed Markey (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) introduced a resolution marking the one-year anniversary of the fraudulent presidential election in Belarus that installed Alexander Lukashenko for a sixth term. The resolution calls for free and fair elections, reaffirms bipartisan support in the Senate for the pro-democracy movement, free media and the Belarusian people, and condemns Lukashenko’s recent acts of transnational repression.

“Today marks one year since President Lukashenko’s illegitimate power grab in Belarus, followed by brutal crackdowns on political activists and peaceful protesters all over the country. I am proud to join this bipartisan resolution which shows that the United States stands in solidarity with the people of Belarus and continues to condemn the brutal Lukashenko regime in the strongest of terms,” said Senator Portman. “In June, I traveled to Lithuania as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation to meet with Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Even from abroad, Mrs. Tsikhanouskaya strongly advocates for free and fair elections and democracy where the sovereign rights of the people of Belarus are respected – I commend her for her work and continue to offer my unwavering support.”

“This resolution reflects the important bipartisan work underway in Congress in support of the pro-democracy movement in Belarus and in fierce repudiation of Lukashenka’s continued aggression. Our message is clear: we are watching and there will be consequences for actions that violate the rights of Belarusians, wherever they occur,” said Senator Shaheen. “Our bipartisan message from the Senate comes on the one-year anniversary of Belarus’ stolen election and as the Biden administration has rightly announced additional sanctions, in coordination with our UK and EU allies, for human rights abuses and increasing acts of transnational repression. The U.S. will not be silent as Lukashenka’s tyrannical regime escalates crackdowns against the Belarusian people and obstructs the pro-democracy movement and freedoms that the Belarusian citizenry are fighting so hard to secure.”

“As the first official act of the Free Belarus Caucus, this resolution is a strong first step to show the world the U.S. Senate stands with the Belarusian people in their fight for freedom and new elections that are free and fair,” Senator Wicker said. “I urge my colleagues to support this resolution as we work to promote democracy and oppose the ongoing abuses of the Lukashenko regime.”

“A year after the people of Belarus were deprived of their democratic aspirations and desire for change, the United States is taking significant action to target those officials and companies propping up and supporting the Lukashenka regime,” said Senator Cardin. “Over 600 political prisoners are unjustly detained.  Independent media outlets have been raided and shuttered, and Belarusian authorities are attempting to silence NGOs and vital members of civil society, and even Belarusians abroad face intimidation and the threat of kidnapping.  I support the Biden Administration’s sanctions today, and I am proud to join my colleagues in the introduction of this significant, bipartisan resolution.”

“As a consequence of last year's sham election orchestrated by the country's oppressive president, the Belarusian people are still suffering and are barred from enjoying the basic freedoms enjoyed by the rest of Europe,” said Senator Durbin. “Today's resolution sends a clear message to Europe's last dictator, Alexander Lukashenko - the U.S. strongly condemns his actions and is calling for a free and fair election around established international norms.  My colleagues and I will continue to stand with the brave Belarusian people’s aspiration for a more democratic future.”

“What’s happening in Belarus matters to U.S. security. It is in our interest to promote democracy and reinforce the rights of people in Europe and around the world to choose their own fates freely. I’m glad to stand with my colleagues in the Senate to send the message that we care about the future of Belarus and support Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and the pro-democracy activists who are putting their lives on the line for their country,” said Senator Murphy.

“I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan resolution to advocate for the freedoms of the Belarusian people and for democracy in Belarus,” said Senator Kaine. “On the anniversary of Belarus’ fraudulent election, we must reaffirm our support for the rights of the Belarusian people in the face of increasing state-sponsored violence, repression, and human rights abuses by the autocratic Lukashenka regime.”

“The Belarusian people have suffered increased violence and an attack on their civil liberties. Free and fair elections are the bedrock of any democracy, and I was proud to join my colleagues in launching the Free Belarus Caucus to condemn the actions of President Lukashenko and stand in solidarity with the people of Belarus as they fight for basic human rights. We must use every tool available to hold the Belarusian government accountable and support democracy for the Belarusian people,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“For too long, President Lukashenka’s oppressive regime has prevented Belarus from giving its citizens a voice and conduct free and fair elections,” said Senator Tillis. “On this one-year anniversary of the fraudulent elections that installed him for a sixth term, I am proud to join this resolution to reaffirm our support for the pro-democracy movement and the Belarusian people.”

“I am proud to stand with the people of Belarus in their struggle for a more free, fair and just society, and I strongly condemn the human rights abuses being perpetrated by the Lukashenka regime,” said Senator Markey. “As the Belarusian government strips free speech and basic rights away from their own people, the United States Senate will continue to lead efforts to hold the government accountable for their abuses, while calling for a restoration of peace and stability in Belarus. This resolution makes clear we will continue to support the people of Belarus and work closely with our international partners in challenging attempts to silence their calls for peace, progress, human rights and democracy.”

“As strongman Alexander Lukashenko continues his illegitimate mandate, the United States must remain firm on its commitment of standing with the Belarusian people and calling for free, fair, and democratic elections. I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan effort, which calls for joint coordination between the U.S., the EU, the UK, and Canada to ensure the Lukashenko regime is held accountable,” said Senator Rubio.

NOTE: Senators Portman, Shaheen, and Murphy recently returned from Eastern Europe where they participated in a bipartisan delegation to discuss transatlantic relations, democratic reforms and countering increasing aggression from Russia. In Lithuania, the senators met with Tsikhanouskaya to discuss the Lukashenko regime’s increasing human rights abuses against political opposition. Senators Portman and Shaheen also spoke with NPR to discuss their meeting with Tsikhanouskaya and what the U.S. can do to push back against Belarus.

Text of the resolution is available here.