Online hearings on democracy and human rights in Belarus were held in the U.S. Congressional Committee on Human Rights on May 6.
The hearings were hosted by U.S. congressmen James McGovern and Chris Smith, the author of the “Belarus Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty Act of 2020.”
Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, whom Congressman Smith called a real winner of the 2020 elections in Belarus, told about mass repressions and tortures in Belarus: more than 35 thousand arrests, more than 3 thousand criminal cases, at least eight killed, “thousands of severe beatings and tortures – and not a single case against the people guilty of regime violence.”
According to her, the solution to the political crisis in Belarus requires a national dialogue and reconciliation based on the release of all political prisoners and the restoration of their rights, new free and fair elections, as well as reform of the political system, restoration of the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya called on the U.S. to isolate Alyaksandr Lukashenka, organize an international conference to resolve the political crisis in Belarus, and increase support for the Belarusian civil society, human rights activists, independent media, and business. She called the sanctions an effective tool for putting pressure on Lukashenka, who the people of Belarus also support.
Former Assistant Secretary of State David Kramer called for sanctions against the Belarusian businessmen financing Lukashenka (Viktar Sheiman, Alyaksei Aleksin, Mikalai Varabiou, Alyaksandr Zaitsau, Alyaksandr Mashenski, and Uladzimir Peftsiyeu) but also against Russian oligarchs and propagandists from TV channel RT close to him. Thus, according to him, Mikhail Gutseriyev, German Gref, VTB, VEB and Gazprombank banks, Gazprom, Slavneft, Rosneft, and Uralkali are to suffer.
According to David Kramer, sanctions should also apply to representatives of the United Arab Emirates, with whom Lukashenka has close business ties.
Kramer stressed that Russia should give clear signals about the unacceptability of the capture – military or economic – of Belarus, as well as to “the Emirates and others in the region,” that support of Lukashenka would have an impact on relations with the United States.