WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), today introduced a bipartisan resolution calling for a free, fair, and transparent presidential election in Belarus taking place on August 9, 2020, including the unimpeded participation of all presidential candidates. Long-term strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenko has ruled Belarus as an undemocratic dictatorship amid a series of flawed elections going back to 1994. In the most recent 2010 and 2015 presidential elections, Lukashenko arbitrarily disqualified or jailed key opponents in the days ahead of the elections.
“The Belarusian people deserve to have their voices heard in free, fair, and transparent elections. For 26 years, Lukashenko has silenced political opponents, suffocated the freedom of speech, and manipulated elections,” Senator Cardin said. “With this resolution, we stand with the Belarusian people in saying enough is enough.”
“I will never forget visiting in January 2011 with the families of opposition candidates jailed by Lukashenko for having the temerity to run against him in the sham presidential election just the month before,” Senator Durbin said. “That the Last Dictator of Europe continues to so brazenly rob his people of the basic freedoms enjoyed by the rest of Europe is a tragedy that must be condemned.”
In March 2011, the United States Senate, led by Cardin and Durbin) and then-Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), unanimously passed a resolution condemning the Belarusian elections as illegitimate and calling on the Belarusian regime to immediately release all political prisoners. The resolution followed Durbin’s visit to Belarus in January 2011, just after the discredited December 2010 President election in which Lukashenko jailed leading opposition opponents. Durbin met with the families of those jailed leaders during his visit and advocated for their eventual release.
According to the United States Department of State 2019 Human Rights country Report on Belarus, Lukashenko has consolidated his rule over all institutions since his first term as president, undermined the rule of law through authoritarian means, including manipulated elections and arbitrary decrees, such that all subsequent presidential elections fell well short of international standards.
Full text of today’s resolution is available here.