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Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
www.csce.gov
March 1, 2000

HELSINKI COMMISSION HEARING ANNOUNCED:
BELARUS: STALLED AT A CROSSROADS


(Washington, DC)—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe today announced a forthcoming hearing:

Belarus: Stalled at a Crossroads
Thursday, March 9
10:00 a.m.—1:00 p.m.
Room 334 Cannon House Office Building
Capitol Hill
Washington, DC
Open to Members, Staff, Public and Press


Scheduled to testify:

Commissioner Harold Hongju Koh , Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor;
Ross Wilson, Principal Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large and Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for the New Independent States;
Anatoly Lebedka, chair of the Commission for International Affairs of the 13th Supreme Soviet and deputy chair of the United Civic Party who has played a leading role in the OSCE-led discussions between the opposition and government.
Ross Wilson , Principal Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large and Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for the New Independent States;
Semyon Sharetsky , Speaker of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus illegally disbanded by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in 1996;
Stanislav Shushkevych , past Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, independent Belarus’ first Head of State. Currently a member of the Supreme Soviet and corresponding member of Belarus’ National Academy of Sciences;
Adrian Severin , head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Working Group on Belarus and a Romanian Parliamentarian; former Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs (1996-97).

Following a controversial 1996 referendum, after which he disbanded the legitimate Supreme Soviet, Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka has continued to suppress human rights and hinder democratic development.

Meaningful dialogue between the government and opposition has yet to materialize, due to governmental intransigence, complicated by a recently approved electoral code that decreases the likelihood of free and fair parliamentary elections planned for this Fall.

The economic situation in Belarus continues to deteriorate, disaffection with the Lukashenka regime is growing, and the renewed Russia-Belarusian union has serious implications for Belarus’ existence as an independent state.

Media Contact: Chadwick R. Gore
202.225.1901
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From left, Rep. Smith, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, Chairman Cardin, and Ranking Member Hastings hear testimony on threats to media freedom at a hearing June 9, 2010