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Don't Forget Belarus

February 15, 2006

Demonstrations planned again for February 16th

The Washington Times
www.washingtontimes.com

Embassy Row
By James Morrison
Published February 15, 2006

Pro-democracy advocates from Belarus focused attention on their repressive government as they visited Washington to seek U.S. support for the dissident movement in the former Soviet republic.

Their trip last week preceded another daylong demonstration outside the Belarussian Embassy tomorrow, beginning at 10 a.m., to continue highlighting the political abuses in the current presidential election campaign. Organizers plan to hold another rally outside the diplomatic mission at 1619 New Hampshire Ave. NW next month before the March 19 election.

The dissidents who met with administration officials and public policy groups were Svetlana Zavadskaya, president of the Dmitry Zavadsky Foundation, named for her journalist husband, who disappeared in Belarus; Olga Stuzhinskaya, Brussels coordinator of the Democratic Belarus pro-democracy group; and Marina Rakhlei, a reporter for the independent BelaPAN news agency.

Speaking at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, they urged the audience "not to abandon" the Belarussian democracy movement after the election, which the reformers are expected to lose.

Mrs. Zavadskaya said her country stands at a "historical threshold," and called the election the "last chance for the Belarussian opposition to bring about change."

They said the opposition is unified behind Alexander Milinkevich in his challenge to President Alexander Lukashenko, who controls the election machinery, including access to the media.

R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, assured them of U.S. support in a meeting Friday.

He expressed the United States' "deep and continuing interest in Belarus, both ahead and after the March 19 election."

"We want the people of Belarus to join the rest of the continent and help complete the transition to a Europe whole, free and at peace," Mr. Burns said.

The Joint Baltic American National Committee organized tomorrow's protest, at which Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Michigan Republican, is expected to speak. He is a member of the House International Relations subcommittee on Europe and emerging threats.

"The congressman has been a great supporter of democracy and freedom in Belarus," the committee said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright 2006 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Copyright The Washington Times


Octobr 17, 2008 - President Bush Discusses the Visa Waiver Program
Office of the Press Secretary/ White House News

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Please be seated, thank you. Welcome to the White House. I'm pleased to stand with the representatives of seven countries -- the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea -- that have met the requirements to be admitted to the United States Visa Waiver Program. Soon the citizens of these nations will be able to travel to the United States for business or tourism without a visa. I congratulate these close friends and allies on this achievement, and I thank you for joining us here.

I also thank Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of the Homeland -- Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for working hard to make sure this day has finally arrived. Appreciate other members of the administration here and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

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The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc.
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