Title

Freedom Denied: Belarus on the Eve of the Election

Thursday, March 09, 2006
138 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington D.C., DC 20002
United States
Official Transcript: 
Members: 
Name: 
Hon. Sam Brownback
Title Text: 
Chairman
Body: 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Name: 
Hon. Chris Smith
Title Text: 
Co-Chairman
Body: 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Statement: 
Name: 
Hon. Benjamin Cardin
Title Text: 
Ranking Member
Body: 
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Witnesses: 
Name: 
Hon. David Kramer
Title: 
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eursasian Affairs
Body: 
Department of State
Name: 
Iryna Vidanava
Title: 
Editor-in-Chief
Body: 
Students' Thoughts
Name: 
Stephen Nix
Title: 
Regional Program Director, Eurasia
Body: 
International Republican Institute
Statement: 
Name: 
Patrick Merloe
Title: 
Director of Programs on Election Processes
Body: 
National Democratic Institute
Name: 
Rodger Potocki
Title: 
Senior Program Officer for East Central Europe
Body: 
National Endowment for Democracy
Name: 
Celeste Wallander
Title: 
Director and Senior Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Program
Body: 
Center for Strategic and International Studies

Presidential elections in Belarus are scheduled to be held March 19, against the backdrop of stepped up repression by the regime of Alexander Lukashenka. The Belarusian strongman's power grab, begun a decade ago, has included liquidation of the democratically elected parliament, a string of fundamentally flawed elections and manipulation of the country's constitution to maintain power. A climate of fear following the disappearance of leading opposition figures in 1999 has continued with the harassment and arrests of opposition activists and the forced closure of independent newspapers. Rights violations in Belarus have intensified in the aftermath of the Orange Revolution in neighboring Ukraine, as the regime seeks to squelch dissent. The repressive environment has made it difficult for opposition candidates to engage in normal campaign activities. Meanwhile, administration of the elections at all levels remains firmly in the hands of Lukashenka loyalists.

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