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Business as Usual: Belarus on the Eve of the Elections

Members

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Representative Alcee L. Hastings

Chairman

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

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Senator Ben Cardin

Co-Chairman

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

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Representative Christopher H. Smith

Ranking Member

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Representative Hilda L. Solis

Commissioner

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Witnesses

Hon. David J. Kramer

Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Department of State

Laura Jewett

Regional Director, Eurasia

National Endowment for Democracy

Rodger Potocki

Director, Europe and Eurasia

National Endowment for Democracy

Stephen B. Nix

Regional Program Director, Eurasia

International Republican Institute

The hearing examined the state of democracy and human rights in Belarus and how the Belarusian authorities are complying with their election commitments to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in advance of the September 28, 2008 parliamentary elections.

In August 2008, authorities released Belarus’ most prominent political prisoner, Alexander Kozulin, and two others, fulfilling a key demand of the United States and European Union. This, together with Belarusian leader Lukashenka’s unenthusiastic response to Russia’s aggression in Georgia also has raised a glimmer of possibility for an improvement in Belarus’ ties with the United States and European Union. Nevertheless, to date, there had been no appreciable progress in human rights and democracy in the run up to the elections.

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