Belarus Democracy Resolution Passes in U.S. House

BANC PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release
              March 8, 2006
contact: Karl Altau (tel. 301-340-1954)

Washington, DC (JBANC) --- A resolution expressing support for democratic processes in Belarus on the eve of the presidential election there, passed this afternoon 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. 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. Viacorka spoke at JBANC’s March 2005 conference in Washington, DC.

The text of H. Res. 673 can be found at 37 members had co-sponsored the resolution as of March 7. They are listed below, alphabetically (House Baltic Caucus members in bold):

Rep Barrett, J. Gresham [SC-3] - 2/28/2006
Rep Bean, Melissa L. [IL-8] - 2/28/2006
Rep Biggert, Judy [IL-13] - 2/28/2006
Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] - 2/28/2006
Rep Brady, Kevin [TX-8] - 2/28/2006
Rep Burgess, Michael C. [TX-26] - 2/28/2006
Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] - 2/28/2006
Rep Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD-3] - 3/7/2006
Rep Conaway, K. Michael [TX-11] - 2/28/2006
Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-7] - 2/28/2006
Rep Davis, Geoff [KY-4] - 2/28/2006
Rep Diaz-Balart, Lincoln [FL-21] - 2/28/2006
Rep Diaz-Balart, Mario [FL-25] - 3/1/2006
Rep Doolittle, John T. [CA-4] - 3/1/2006
Rep English, Phil [PA-3] - 3/7/2006
Rep Evans, Lane [IL-17] - 2/28/2006
Rep Foley, Mark [FL-16] - 3/1/2006
Rep Gallegly, Elton [CA-24] - 2/14/2006
Rep Hart, Melissa A. [PA-4] - 3/7/2006
Rep Hulshof, Kenny C. [MO-9] - 2/28/2006
Rep Issa, Darrell E. [CA-49] - 2/15/2006
Rep Kirk, Mark Steven [IL-10] - 2/28/2006
Rep LaHood, Ray [IL-18] - 2/28/2006
Rep Lantos, Tom [CA-12] - 2/28/2006
Rep Lipinski, Daniel [IL-3] - 2/28/2006
Rep McCotter, Thaddeus [MI-11] - 2/15/2006
Rep Pallone, Frank, Jr. [NJ-6] - 2/28/2006
Rep Rogers, Mike [MI-8] - 2/15/2006
Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] - 2/28/2006
Rep Shays, Christopher [CT-4] - 2/28/2006
Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] - 2/28/2006
Rep Sullivan, John [OK-1] - 2/28/2006
Rep Terry, Lee [NE-2] - 2/28/2006
Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY-10] - 3/1/2006
Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] - 3/7/2006
Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] - 3/7/2006
Rep Weller, Jerry [IL-11] - 2/28/2006

JBANC represents the Estonian American National Council, Inc., the American Latvian Association, Inc. and the Lithuanian American Council, Inc. ###

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.

The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc.
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