Toggle navigation menu.
Ukrainian church 368x331

Rep. Smith’s Support of the Ukraine Support Act

  • Hon. Christopher H. Smith
    US












House of Representative

113th Congress, Second Session

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the Ukraine Support Act. I want to thank my friends and colleagues, Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Engel, for introducing this comprehensive legislation to support Ukraine in its urgent effort to meet its current crisis, including by building up its democratic institutions.

Mr. Speaker, Russia’s land grab in Crimea violates the core principles of several bilateral and multilateral agreements and treaties between Ukraine and Russia, the Budapest Memorandum, and the United Nations Charter, as well as the Helsinki Final Act. This legislation includes strong sanctions against Russians directly responsible for the aggression.

H.R. 4278 also authorizes targeted sanctions against Ukrainians involved in undermining the democratic processes and provides assistance to the Ukrainian Government for identifying and recovering stolen assets. It is, after all, these criminal officials, including and especially Yanukovych and his cronies, who have so harmed the Ukrainian people and placed the country in the vulnerable position which Russia has exploited.

Another key provision of the bill provides support for Ukraine’s democracy and civil society; and I want to here recognize the importance of supporting, as well, the faith-based groups and organizations that played such a prominent role, particularly on the humanitarian side, in supporting the movement for democracy and the rule of law.

The Ukrainian democracy movement is, in large part, a religious movement. Orthodox and Catholic clergy, for example, were prominent in the protests, and the drama of priests carrying icons confronting soldiers became as much a symbol of the democratization movement as anything else. And, again, when people were wounded and when people were being dragged away, it was the clergy that tried to step in to mitigate the violence against them.

Let me also point out a Catholic News Service article that just hit the wire that points out that members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church are fleeing Crimea to escape threats of arrest and property seizures.

Father Milchakovskyi, a parish rector in Crimea, said:

“The situation remains very serious, and we don’t know what will happen–the new government here is portraying us all as nationalists and extremists.”

The article also says:

“Officials from Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, had called him in for questioning about his community and to ask whether or not he “recognized the new order.””

He pointed out that one priest in particular was actually beaten by Russian forces. And, again, Members will recall, and I remember during the 1980s when I first came here, how so many within the church, including the orthodox church, were beaten and sent to the gulag because of their religious faith. This could be the harbinger of a new wave of repression against people of faith. The Ukrainian Catholic Church, by way of reminder, was one of those churches that was outlawed during Soviet times, and now we see the same kind of repetition of that kind of repression.

This legislation is a clear step in the right direction. No piece of legislation will do it all. We have to appeal to the Russians to stop this, but, again, to cease their persecution of people in the Crimea.

Category
Country
Issue
Date
Filter Topics Open Close
Press Releases

HEARING: Supporting Georgia’s Sovereignty and Democracy

May 17, 2024

Tuesday, June 4, 2024 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Room TBD WASHINGTON—The recent adoption of a Russian-style foreign agent law heralds an openly anti-western turn by the ruling Georgian Dream government, and their concomitant alignment with Russia as well as other authoritarian powers such as China. After three decades of a pro-west, democratizing, and Euro-Atlantic-facing […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Closing the Skies, Liberating Ukraine

May 16, 2024

WASHINGTON—The recent, bipartisan passage of supplemental aid for Ukraine may represent a turning point in the war against Russia’s genocidal invasion. Outgunned and outmanned, Ukrainian forces have lost territory in recent months, but made Russian forces pay a tremendous cost for ultimately moderate territorial gains, with Russian forces suffering nearly 90,000 casualties in taking several […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

HEARING – Closing the Skies, Liberating Ukraine

May 09, 2024

Thursday, May 16, 2024 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Rayburn 2212 Stream live here: https: https://www.youtube.com/live/AN0aG5BGwI0 WASHINGTON—The recent, bipartisan passage of supplemental aid for Ukraine may represent a turning point in the war against Russia’s genocidal invasion. Outgunned and outmanned, Ukrainian forces have lost territory in recent months, but made Russian forces pay a tremendous […]

screen-reader-text
Statements

Helsinki Commission Leadership Honors World Press Fr...

May 03, 2024

WASHINGTON—On World Press Freedom Day, Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02), Co-Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (MS) issue the following joint statement: “On World Press Freedom Day, we stand in solidarity with courageous journalists globally. We are especially concerned about American journalists […]

screen-reader-text
Statements

Helsinki Commission House Leadership Statement on Re...

Apr 25, 2024

“After decades of struggle since regaining its independence, Russian influence is making a comeback in Georgia. To its shame, Georgia’s ruling party, defying the Georgian people’s Euro-Atlantic choice and against the advice of its closest friends, is again pushing a Russian-style foreign agent bill. This bill, alongside other attacks on Georgia’s increasingly diminished democracy, aims […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Paul Massaro Appointed Helsinki Commission Staff Dir...

Apr 22, 2024

WASHINGTON — Today, Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02) made the following statement: “I am very grateful to appoint Paul Massaro as Staff Director of the Helsinki Commission. He has worked closely with me and my staff for many years advancing legislation to hold dictators to account and further the cause of democracy and Ukrainian victory. I […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Malta: Leading the OSCE Through Turbulent Times

Apr 16, 2024

  WASHINGTON—The Republic of Malta stepped up to take leadership of the world’s largest regional security organization—the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)—demonstrating its commitment to uphold the principles of the organization, including on security, conflict resolution, democracy and human rights.  Two years into Putin’s brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine, much of the […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

HEARING – The Republic of Malta: Leading the O...

Apr 10, 2024

Tuesday, April 16, 2024 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Rayburn 2247 Stream live here: https: https://youtube.com/live/TddF3ycKl1A WASHINGTON—The Republic of Malta stepped up to take leadership of the world’s largest regional security organization—the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)—demonstrating its commitment to uphold the principles of the organization, including on security, conflict resolution, democracy and […]

screen-reader-text
Statements

Helsinki Commission Senate leadership Statement on R...

Apr 05, 2024

WASHINGTON, DC—In response to the Georgian government’s announcement that it intends in the coming days to reintroduce Russian-style “foreign agent” legislation, U.S. Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Ben Cardin (Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee) and Senate Ranking Member Senator Roger Wicker (Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee) issued the following statement: “This is a deliberate attack on […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

U.S. Helsinki Commissioners Issue Statement in Nurem...

Mar 20, 2024

February 20, 2024 Nuremberg, Germany Court Room 600 NUREMBERG, GERMANY—U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02), Helsinki Commissioners Senator Thom Tillis (NC) and Congresswoman Victoria Spartz (IN-05), Congressman Lloyd Doggett (TX-37) and Congressman Andy Harris (MD-01) led a field hearing on February 20 to examine how best to bring Russian perpetrators to account for their […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

FIELD HEARING–Holding Russia Accountable for its War...

Feb 20, 2024

Session One: Russian crimes against Ukraine’s children, women, and civilians, as well as the use of new technologies in the collection of evidence Session Two: Holding the Russian state and affiliated individuals accountable through courts and international mechanisms Congresswomen Jackson Lee’s Audio Statement from for the Field Hearing: “Lessons from Nuremberg”

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Leadership Responds to Murder of...

Feb 16, 2024

WASHINGTON — Following reports of Alexei Navalny’s death in prison, Helsinki Commission Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Steve Cohen (TN-09) issued the following joint statement: “Alexei Navalny dedicated his life to seeing Russia free and at peace. Despite every cruel obstacle Putin placed in his way, even a near-fatal poisoning, he did not waver in his condemnation […]

screen-reader-text