Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC)
March 8, 2006

Washington, DC (JBANC) — A resolution expressing support for democratic processes in Belarus on the eve of the presidential election there, passed this afternoon in the U.S. House of Representatives by a commanding margin. The March 8 vote gained 419 “yeas,” with only one dissenting vote. Two members voted “present.”

H. Res. 673 was introduced by House Baltic Caucus Co-chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), who waved a denim ribbon on the House floor in solidarity with Belarusian democracy advocates during discussion prior to the vote.

The legislation urges the “Government of Belarus to conduct a free and fair presidential election on March 19” and also “pledges its support to the Belarusian people, their commitment to a fully free and open democratic system, their creation of a prosperous free market economy, and their country’s assumption of its rightful place as a full and equal member of the Western community of democracies.”

The current regime of Alexander Lukashenko continues to harass and intimidate opponents, and suppress opposing views. On March 8, Belarusian Popular Front party leader Vincuk Viacorka was apparently abducted, and later unconfirmed sources said he had been detained and will be charged for “organizing an unsanctioned meeting,” which is becoming an increasingly common charge in Belarus. Viacorka spoke at JBANC’s March 2005 conference in Washington, DC.

The text of H. Res. 673 can be found at 37 members had co-sponsored the resolution as of March 7. They are listed below, alphabetically (House Baltic Caucus members in bold):

Rep Barrett, J. Gresham [SC-3] – 2/28/2006
Rep Bean, Melissa L. [IL-8] – 2/28/2006
Rep Biggert, Judy [IL-13] – 2/28/2006
Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] – 2/28/2006
Rep Brady, Kevin [TX-8] – 2/28/2006
Rep Burgess, Michael C. [TX-26] – 2/28/2006
Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] – 2/28/2006
Rep Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD-3] – 3/7/2006
Rep Conaway, K. Michael [TX-11] – 2/28/2006
Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-7] – 2/28/2006
Rep Davis, Geoff [KY-4] – 2/28/2006
Rep Diaz-Balart, Lincoln [FL-21] – 2/28/2006
Rep Diaz-Balart, Mario [FL-25] – 3/1/2006
Rep Doolittle, John T. [CA-4] – 3/1/2006
Rep English, Phil [PA-3] – 3/7/2006
Rep Evans, Lane [IL-17] – 2/28/2006
Rep Foley, Mark [FL-16] – 3/1/2006
Rep Gallegly, Elton [CA-24] – 2/14/2006
Rep Hart, Melissa A. [PA-4] – 3/7/2006
Rep Hulshof, Kenny C. [MO-9] – 2/28/2006
Rep Issa, Darrell E. [CA-49] – 2/15/2006
Rep Kirk, Mark Steven [IL-10] – 2/28/2006
Rep LaHood, Ray [IL-18] – 2/28/2006
Rep Lantos, Tom [CA-12] – 2/28/2006
Rep Lipinski, Daniel [IL-3] – 2/28/2006
Rep McCotter, Thaddeus [MI-11] – 2/15/2006
Rep Pallone, Frank, Jr. [NJ-6] – 2/28/2006
Rep Rogers, Mike [MI-8] – 2/15/2006

Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] – 2/28/2006
Rep Shays, Christopher [CT-4] – 2/28/2006
Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] – 2/28/2006
Rep Sullivan, John [OK-1] – 2/28/2006
Rep Terry, Lee [NE-2] – 2/28/2006
Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY-10] – 3/1/2006
Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] – 3/7/2006
Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] – 3/7/2006

Rep Weller, Jerry [IL-11] – 2/28/2006