The Pressure on the Lukashenka regime will grow.
The U.S. Congress is preparing a new “Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act”. Congressman Christopher Smith is the main author of the document. Pozirk reports.
According to him, if the document is adopted, it will become the fifth Act on democracy in Belarus – the U.S. Congress signed the first document in 2004.
“The question of what is happening in Belarus has been raised several times, including in the Foreign Affairs Committee,” Smith said. “And although it is crucial to support Ukraine and stop the war going on there now, but we also cannot remove our focus from the fact that there are repressions and 1,500 political prisoners in Belarus [about 8,000-10,000 in fact - Ed.]. More and more people are constantly being arrested. This is a terror tactic.
Congressman Smith noted that in previous years it was possible to achieve the release of political prisoners, including through sanctions and pressure on the Lukashenka regime.
“There were talks like ‘Lukashenka may not be so bad’. I said that he is worse than ever and we should support those who are oppressed, and not establish contacts with oppressors. The Belarus Democracy Act is precisely about this: it reaffirms existing programs to support the democratization of Belarus, calls for the introduction of temporary protected status for Belarusians in the United States, and calls for sanctions,” the source said.
According to Mr Smith, work is now underway among other congressmen to join the document as co-authors.
“We have a list of those who have already supported the Democracy Act. I am scheduled to meet with the Speaker of the House of Representatives on this issue shortly. I’m very optimistic about the adoption of the act. Hopefully, it will be approved before the end of the year,” Mr Smith said.
The Belarus Democracy Act was first signed in 2004 after Aliaksandr Lukashenka held a “referendum” that allowed one person to be elected president (in fact Lukashenka) an unlimited number of times. The document was amended in 2006, 2011 and 2020 in connection with the presidential elections and the repression of that time.
The document adopted in 2020 emphasized that Lukashenka is not the legitimate ruler of Belarus.
The document expanded the U.S.’s ability to apply sanctions pressure on the Lukashenka regime and assist Belarusian civil society and independent media.