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Solidarity with Belarus

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 15, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong solidarity with the citizens and the political dissidents of Belarus.

On August 9, 2020, Belarus held its presidential election with its incumbent President, Alexander Lukashenko, claiming victory with over 80 percent of the vote. Both the United States and the European Union have called the elections ``neither fair or free,'' as the Lukashenko regime restricted ballot access for candidates, prohibited local independent observers, and employed intimidation tactics against opposition candidates.

Mass protests erupted following the election. Tens of thousands of protestors took to the street to express their disapproval of Lukashenko and his administration. His regime responded with excessive force to quell the protests, including the use of live and rubber ballots, leading to thousands of Belarusian citizens being either detained or arrested. It appears likely that violent crackdowns will continue.

Mr. Speaker, included in these arrests are several opposition leaders, including former presidential candidates Sergei Tikhanovsky, Viktar Babaryka, Coordination Council members Liliya Vlasova, Sergei Dylevsky, Maria Kalesnikava, and Maxim Znak, as well as several of their staff and volunteers, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the opposition presidential nominee, was forced to flee the country, as was opposition leader Veronika Tsepkalo and her husband, former presidential nominee, Valery Tsepkalo.

None of the dissidents have been given a fair trial, and all of them have had their human rights denied. As I think about the current situation in Belarus, I am reminded of President Ronald Reagan's speech to Soviet dissidents at Spaso House in 1988. President Reagan made two things clear that day: The United States' commitment to human rights are, and will continue to be, fundamental and unwavering, and that through strength, determination, and prayer, there is nothing you cannot conquer.

Reagan also said in that speech, ``While we press for human rights through diplomatic channels, you press with your very lives, day in, day out, year after year, risking your jobs, your homes, your all.''

Mr. Speaker, while the people of Belarus continue their tireless fight for human rights, the United States should be working with our European partners and allies to impose new sanctions on those responsible not only for voter repression, but also for the violent crackdowns that follow the election.

Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record a list of 28 individuals. Belarus Sanctions Recommendations

1. Alexander Lukashenko, President (Notes: Ordering the blatant falsification of presidential voting, commission of acts of violence against peaceful protesters, torture of detainees, inhumane detainment conditions, persecution of political opponents and journalists.)

2. Lydia Yermishina, Chairwoman, Central Election Commission (Notes: Multiple cases of election fraud and falsification, criminal misconduct concerning the tabulation of balance and miss reporting election results.)

3. Yuriy Karaev, Minister of Interior (Notes: Commission of acts of violence against peaceful protesters, torture of detainees, inhumane detainment conditions, persecution of political opposition and journalists.)

4. Valeriy Vakaluchik, Director, KGB (Notes: Ordering and implementing acts of violence against peaceful protesters, torture of detainees, inhumane detainment conditions, persecution of political opposition and journalists.)

5. Viktor Lukashenko, counselor to the president on national security (Notes: Organization and implementation of violence against peaceful protesters, torture of detainees, inhumane detainment conditions, persecution of political opposition and journalists.)

6. Dimitri Lukashenko, son of Alexander Lukashenko (Notes: Sanctions imposed by extension to family members.)

7. Dimitriy Balaba, special police unit, Minsk (Notes: Commission of acts of violence against peaceful protesters, torture of detainees, inhumane detainment conditions, persecution of political opposition and journalists.)

8. Ivan Kubrakov, Director of Minsk police department (Notes: Commission of acts of violence against peaceful protesters, portrait detainees, inhumane detainment conditions, persecution of political opposition and journalists.)

9. Roman Golovchenko, Prime Minister (Notes: Organization of falsification of elections.)

10. Igor Sergeenko, Head of presidential administration (Notes: Organization of falsification of elections.)

11. Viktor Sheyman, Chief Manager of the President (Notes: Persecution of political opponents of Alexander Lukashenko.)

12. Dimitriy Pavlichenko, Head of the Association of Veterans of the Special Forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ex-commander of Military Unit 3214; Ex-commander of SOBR. (Notes: Unofficially commanded the special forces who violently dispersed protesters in Minsk.)

13. Ivan Tertel, Chairman of the State Control Committee (Notes: The official initiator of the Belgazprombank case and the arrest of presidential candidate Viktor Babariko along with his relatives, friends, and employees.)

14. Oleg Slizhevsky, Minister of Justice (Notes: Sanctions imposed by extension to leading officials on account of the Belarusian government's suppression of free and fair elections and subsequent abuses.)

15. Petr Miklashevich, President of the Constitutional Court (Notes: Sanctions imposed by extension to leading officials on account of the Belarusian government's suppression of free and fair elections and subsequent abuses.)

16. Valentin Sukalo, President of the Supreme Court (Notes: Sanctions imposed by extension to leading officials on account of the Belarusian government's suppression of free and fair elections and subsequent abuses.)

17. Aleksandr Konyuk, Prosecutor General (Notes: Provision of official justification for the brutal crackdowns on protesters and involvement in the manufactured prosecution of members of the opposition.)

18. Ivan Noskevish, Chairman of the Investigative Committee (Notes: Falsification of criminal cases against protesters.)

19. Vladimir Karanik, Minister of Health (Notes: Dissemination of misinformation about the orchestration of medical protests.)

20. Ivan Eysmont, Chairman of State Broadcasting ``Belteleradiocompany'' (Notes: Organization of falsification of elections.)

21. Igor Lutskiy, Minister of Information (Notes: Organization of falsification of elections.)

22. Viktor Hrenin, Minister of Defense (Notes: Sanctions imposed by extension to leading officials on account of the Belarusian government's suppression of free and fair elections and subsequent abuses.)

23. Major General Yuri Nazarenko, Deputy Minister of the Interior and Commander of the Interior Armed Forces, former Chief of Staff of the Lukashenko Security Service (Notes: Commission of acts of violence against peaceful protesters, torture of detainees, inhumane detainment conditions, persecution of political opposition and journalists.)

24. Vladimir Zhiznevsky, Commander of the Internal Army Unit No. 3214 (Notes: Commission of acts of violence against peaceful protesters, torture of detainees, inhumane detainment conditions, persecution of political opposition and journalists.)

25. Alexander Bykov, Commander of the Special Rapid Reaction Force (COBP) (Notes: Commission of acts of violence against peaceful protesters, torture of detainees, inhumane detainment conditions, persecution of political opposition and journalists.)

26. Alexander Barsukov, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs--Head of the Public Security Police (Notes: Commission of acts of violence against peaceful protesters, torture of detainees, inhumane detainment conditions, persecution of political opposition and journalists.)

27. Natalia Kachanova, Head of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly (Notes: Organization of falsification of elections.)

28. Andrey Ravkov, Secretary of State of the Security Council (Notes: Commission of acts of violence against peaceful protesters, torture of detainees, inhumane detainment conditions, persecution of political opposition and journalists.)

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Mr. SHIMKUS. This new round of sanctions should send a clear and direct message that any attempts to interfere with the Belarusian people's inalienable rights to freedom, democracy, and the rule of law will not be tolerated.

Mr. Speaker, let it be clear to the Belarusian people: We, the people of the United States, hear their cry for freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. We stand behind them.

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