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Washington, D.C. — The U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs will host a hearing tomorrow on Wednesday, March 21 titled: “Russia 2012: Increased Repression, Rampant Corruption, Assisting Rouge Regimes.”  This hearing will examine the impact of Vladimir Putin’s return to the Russian presidency, the future of Russia’s economy and foreign policy, the state of democracy and human rights in the country, and consequences for U.S. interests. 



TOMORROW - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

10:30 a.m.


2172 Rayburn House Office Building



The Honorable David J. Kramer


Freedom House


Mr. William F. Browder

Chief Executive Office

Hermitage Capital Management


The Honorable Steven Pifer

Director of the Brookings Arms Control Initiative

Brookings Institution

(Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine)


Leon Aron, Ph.D.

Director of Russian Studies

American Enterprise Institute


Hearings held in Room 2172 of the Rayburn H.O.B. are available via live video through the Committee’s website at TV and Radio outlets must register with the House Radio-TV Gallery on Tuesday, March 20, 2011 after 4pm.  Please call 202-225-5214 to register.  Print reporters may contact Andrew Lee to reserve a seat at the press table.




WASHINGTON, D.C. – Support for people struggling to obtain basic human rights in Belarus—often called Europe’s last dictatorship—came today in the form of the House of Representatives passage of the Belarus Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2011. The bill, H.R. 515, calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Belarus, including those detained in the post-election crackdown, and refuses to recognize the results of the flawed recent elections.

“The repressive regime in Belarus was in full force earlier this week as police broke up protestors attempting to mark their country’s independence day,” said Rep. Chris Smith author of the legislation and chairman of the House subcommittee panel that oversees human rights. “Hundreds were detained, including independent journalists reporting on rallies held across the country.

“H.R. 515 states a U.S. government policy of strong support for the Belarusian people in their struggle against the Lukashenka dictatorship, aspiring to live in a free and independent country where their human rights are respected, they can choose their government, and officials apply just laws that they themselves are subject to,” said Smith, who is also chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission). “This bill encourages those struggling for decency and basic rights against the overwhelming pressures from the anti-democratic regime.” To view Chairman Smith’s floor remarks, click here..

The bill, which passed tonight in a voice vote, requires the administration to report to Congress on the Belarusan government’s activities in selling arms abroad, censorship or surveillance of the internet, and the personal assets and wealth of Lukashenka and other senior leadership figures. It also states the sense of the Congress that the administration should deny entry into the U.S. of Belarusan senior government officials, as well as their immediate family members and business partners, and members of the security services involved in the post-election crackdown. The bill also expresses the sense of the Congress that the U.S. administration should refuse U.S. government or Trade and Development Agency financing to the government of Belarus.

The fraudulent December 2010 elections and the more recent brutal crackdown follows the pattern of repression that has characterized Aleksandr Lukashenka’s nearly 17-year rule. During a Helsinki Commission visit to Minsk in June 2009, Smith pressed Lukashenka directly on his dismal human rights record and denial of democratic freedoms. Smith had previously authored the Belarus Democracy Acts of 2004 and of 2006 both passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support and were signed into law.

H.R. 515 states a U.S. government policy of supporting the basic human rights of the Belarusan people against the Lukashenka dictatorship, and for a full accounting of the 1999-2000 disappearances of opposition leaders and a journalist in Belarus, and the prosecution of those responsible.

The bill was approved by both Smith’s Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee and by the full Foreign Affairs Committee in April.


Washington, D.C. – Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN-05) issued the following statement after being named to head the House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia during the forthcoming 112th Congress:

“I wish to thank Chair-elect Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for entrusting me to spearhead the House of Representatives’ oversight of our relationship with our European and Eurasian allies. Whether the subject is missile defense, religious freedom and human rights in the emerging democracies of the former Soviet Union or United States support for European financial bailouts, I can assure Hoosier taxpayers that I will vigorously question the Obama Administration’s approaches and priorities to ensure that they not only support American values and interests, but that they are fiscally responsible as well.


Rep. Burton is the third highest ranking Republican Member of the House Foreign Relations Committee. Earlier this morning Chairwoman-elect Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced Rep. Burton’s Chairmanship with the following: “Congressman Burton is a hard-charger and never afraid to tell it like it is. I have no doubt that he will stand up for American values and stand against those who threaten our interest and who threaten freedom and security worldwide, and he won’t make apologies for who we are as a country and what we stand for. As Chairman of this subcommittee, he will be on the front line of the debate on such issues as missile defense, burden-sharing by our NATO allies, and countering growing Russian aggression against new democracies. I can think of no one better for this effort.”


"I look forward to the United States strengthening our relationship with Great Britain, America's closest ally, under Prime Minister Cameron. Our nations must continue to speak with one voice in pursuing our mutual interests of defeating terrorism, securing Israel and preventing rogue nations from developing nuclear weapons."
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