The political and economic situation in Belarus remains dire under President Lukashenka’s authoritarian rule. Repression of human rights and his assault on democratic institutions are the subject of continuing concern. Lukashenka has rejected calls for an election and is attempting to neutralize democratic opposition to his rule. The hearing provided a timely opportunity to review the current situation in Belarus in advance of the May 16, 1999 presidential elections called by the democratic opposition.
The hearing witnesses outlined the precariousness of democracy and human rights in Belarus and how the authorities have sought to repress opposition leaders and Belarusian civil society organizations. Witnesses spoke of the Belarusian government’s relationship with the internationally recognized 13th Supreme Soviet and President Lukashenko’s refusal to hold constitutionally mandated elections.