U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) last week joined a bipartisan contingent of congressmen to introduce legislation that would support the Belarusian people following the Alexander Lukashenka regime’s political repression in the aftermath of a fraudulent election on August 9.
The bipartisan Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020, H.R. 8438, was introduced on Sept. 29 by bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and cosponsors including Rep. Kinzinger and Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Eliot Engel (D-NY). The legislation would reauthorize the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004, which supports primarily indigenous Belarusian groups that are committed to advancing democratic processes in various activities, including elections and human rights.
“I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation that formally condemns the fraudulent August election in Belarus and shows strong U.S. support for the sovereignty of the Belarusian people,” Rep. Kinzinger said. “We stand with the freedom-loving people around the world, especially those who are oppressed.”
Lukashenka has served as the first and only president of Belarus since the office was established 26 years ago.
If enacted, H.R. 8438 would promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Belarus, as well as support the Belarusian people in preserving the independence and sovereignty of their country, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Kinzinger’s office.
“Our legislation calls for the crackdown on peaceful demonstrators to end, for all those who have been unjustly detained to be released, and for a transparent and fair electoral process,” said Rep. Kinzinger. “With foreign assistance parameters and coordination with our European partners, our efforts here can help ensure the voices of the Belarusian people will be heard.”
Specifically, H.R. 8438 would state that it is U.S. policy to reject the fraudulent August 9 Belarusian presidential election; refuse to recognize Lukashenka as the legitimately elected leader of Belarus; and would call for a new presidential election in Belarus, according to the summary.
Additionally, the bill would expand the list of Belarusian authorities who may be subject to U.S. sanctions beyond the country’s senior leadership and security services to include those directly responsible for the crackdown on independent media; and would further strengthen the current human rights sanctions regime on Belarus, among other provisions, according to the summary.
H.R. 8438 is expected soon to be marked up by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and is also under consideration by the U.S. House Financial Services and Judiciary committees.