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Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin, Chairman
Hon. Alcee L. Hastings, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
June 4, 2009


WASHINGTON—Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings today called on governments and non-governmental organizations to work together to increase the rule of law, human rights reforms and democracy in countries, like Russia, Iran, and Venezuela, where freedom is increasingly lacking.

The Co-Chairmen spoke at a conference titled “Undermining Democracy: 21st Century Authoritarians” organized by Freedom House, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Asia.

“Russia has regressed on many of the principles of democracy. We are not looking for them to duplicate American institutions, but they are failing to uphold the very institutions that allow all people who yearn for freedom the opportunity to participate in their government. This is worth fighting for,” Chairman Cardin said. “We can be successful in our modern day fight against authoritarianism only if government and non-governmental organizations work in concert with each other for the common goal of freedom.”

Co-Chairman Hastings added: “Setting a good example will hardly be enough to get dictators in Iran or Venezuela to follow suit – but it may help our credibility with those countries which might stand with us as allies in the effort to bring democracy to a greater part of the world. If anti-democracy regimes are going to work together – and it seems that they are – pro-democracy governments have to work that much harder, and we must work together.”

To view the full report on 21st century authoritarians visit


Media Contact: Neil Simon
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