Senate Passes Durbin, Rubio, Cardin Bipartisan Resolution Calling For Free, Fair, & Transparent Election In Belarus

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan resolution, introduced by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), which calls 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.  And he is doing so again this election.

“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,” 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.  Unanimous passage of this resolution shows that the United States Senate stands with the brave people of Belarus in their hopes for a more democratic country.” 

“The world will be watching closely as Belarus holds its presidential election this Sunday.  I thank my Senate colleagues for passing this important resolution that calls for Belarus to hold a free, fair, and transparent election that adheres to international standards,” Rubio said.  “The U.S. Senate is sending a strong message of support to the people of Belarus.”

“As the world watches Belarus’ election this weekend, the Senate’s passage of this resolution demonstrates that the U.S. Senate stands with the Belarusian people in saying enough is enough,” said Cardin. “For 26 years, Lukashenko has silenced political opponents, suffocated the freedom of speech, and manipulated elections. He is trying to do this once again, with police arresting more than 1,360 opposition protestors since May. But the Belarusian people deserve what their other European neighbors have: free, fair, and transparent elections.”

Durbin spoke about the passage of the resolution on the Senate floor.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

In March 2011, the United States Senate, led by Durbin and Ben Cardin (D-MD) and then-Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ), 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 the resolution is available here