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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Democracy and Human Rights in Belarus

Thursday, May 6, 2021 - 10:00am
Virtual via Cisco Webex


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on democracy and human rights in Belarus.

On August 9, 2020, Belarus held national elections that were widely viewed as neither free nor fair. The government asserted that Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, had won another five years in office, prompting people to take to the streets.   Lukashenka responded to the protests with a brutal crackdown that led to the rise of a mass opposition movement of a size not seen since the country won independence in 1991. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the candidate who ran against Lukashenka, has described the movement as a democratic revolution that is neither pro-Russia nor anti-Russia, neither pro-EU nor anti-EU. As of March 2021, human rights activists and monitors report more than 32,000 Belarusians, including journalists, have been temporarily detained and imprisoned, and consider about 200 to be political prisoners. At least 10 demonstrators have died or been killed under suspicious circumstances. The U.S. and the European Union have condemned the election fraud and violence and imposed sanctions in response. Lukashenka has sought support from the Russian Federation and Russia has sought to leverage Belarus’ economic dependence in its favor.

Last December Congress passed the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty Act of 2020 (P.L. 116-260, Division FF, Title III) which authorizes a variety of measures to support the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people. The House recently passed H. Res. 124 which called for new elections, the release of political prisoners, and dialogue to ensure a peaceful political transition.

The hearing will examine the human rights practices of the Lukashenka government and prospects for change.  

The hearing will be virtual. Pursuant to H. Res. 965, Members of Congress and witnesses will participate remotely via Cisco WebEx. Members of the public and the media may view the hearing by live webcast on the Commission website. The hearing will also be available for viewing on the House Digital Channel service. For any questions, please contact Piero Tozzi at 202-225-3765 (for Co-Chair Smith) or Kimberly Stanton  (for Co-Chair McGovern).   

Hosted by:

Christopher H. Smith
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC
James P. McGovern
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC

Opening Remarks


Panel I

  • Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Chair, Coordination Council for the Transfer of Power
    Written testimony
  • Dr. Adam Eberhardt, Director of the Centre for Eastern Studies
    Written testimony
  • Paul Goble, Member, Victims of Communism Academic Council
    Written testimony
  • David J. Kramer, Senior Fellow in the Václav Havel Program for Human Rights & Diplomacy and Director for European & Eurasian Studies, Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs, Florida International University
    Written testimony
  • Dr. Gulnoza Said, Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
    Written testimony

Submitted for the Record


117th Congress