Belarus Democracy Resolution Passes in U.S. House

Washington, DC, March 8, 2006 ( --- According to a press release of the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC), a resolution expressing support for democratic processes in Belarus on the eve of the presidential election there, passed on Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives by a commanding margin. The March 8 vote gained 419 "yeas," with only one dissenting vote. Two members voted "present."

H. Res. 673 was introduced by House Baltic Caucus co-chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), who waved a denim ribbon on the House floor in solidarity with Belarusian democracy advocates during discussion prior to the vote.

The legislation urges the "Government of Belarus to conduct a free and fair presidential election on March 19" and also "pledges its support to the Belarusian people, their commitment to a fully free and open democratic system, their creation of a prosperous free market economy, and their country's assumption of its rightful place as a full and equal member of the Western community of democracies."

"The current regime of Alexander Lukashenko continues to harass and intimidate opponents, and suppress opposing views, " is stated in JBANC press release. It informs that, on March 8, Belarusian Popular Front party leader Vincuk Viacorka was apparently abducted, and later unconfirmed sources said he had been detained and will be charged for "organizing an unsanctioned meeting," which is becoming an increasingly common charge in Belarus.