The purpose of the hearing was to assess the situation with democracy and human rights in Belarus in the light of the parliamentary elections to be held on September 28.
At the hearings the U.S. Undersecretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Devyid Kramer, director of the International Department of the Eurasian Republican Institute, Stephen Nix, director of the Eurasian National Democratic Institute’s programs of international affairs and director Laura Jewitt Euro-Asian Department of the State Endowment for Democracy Roger Potocki.
Helsinki Commission Chairman Elsie Geystings noted that the hearings held in a very exciting time to be a country that stands out in that it has the worst in Europe’s human rights situation. But recent actions — Russian invasion of Georgia and the actual occupation of the country — have changed the political dynamics in the region, so that even Alexander Lukashenko, a staunch ally of, showed caution in assessing the actions of the Russian Federation and hitherto not recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
But, Geystings "selective environment in Belarus so far remains problematic. " The situation of democracy and human rights remains skladanayi in handy a lot of time and effort to make up for the damage done over the past fourteen years. In March 2006, E.Geystyngs, who then headed the objective observation of the OSCE in Minsk, said that "the Belarusian people deserve the best fate. But if the Belarusian authorities to summon the will to progress in the field of democracy and human rights, the United States should be ready for the cautious and balanced dialogue.
"If the government of Belarus to show a real commitment to democratic reforms — we will be able to do better things." This statement was made at the hearing, Deputy Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor David Kramer.
According D.Kreymera "to improve relations between Belarus and should really comply with their OSCE commitments in regard to respect for human rights, basic freedoms and democratic norms. " He stressed that the release of political prisoners was "an encouraging step," but the United States are waiting for the Belarusian authorities to ensure civilian rights of people, including the right to freedom of association, freedom of expression, media-independent as well.
D.Kreymer noted that in response to the release of political prisoners the U.S. for six months eased sanctions against 2-companies "Belneftekhim" concern. "We will closely monitor Belarus in order to decide whether to continue such measures," — said the representative of the State Department.
Regardless of the relationship with the official Minsk "we support and will support the Belarusian people — said D.Kreymer. — We tried to assist non-governmental organizations to strengthen their impact on society and to support the ability of political parties also assist non-state media to provide access to impartial disk imaging." D.Kramer noted the important role of Radio Liberty — "Belarusian-leading international media organization", which has recently started to create and television pragramyv collaboration with the TV channel "Belsat".
The spokesman stressed that policy CSHA against Belarus "has never depended on the cooling or warming in relations between Minsk and Moscow." "We never wanted to change the current regime, but sought to change his behavior. And, we hope that at the moment we look positive signals such configurations" — summed D.Kreymer.
Director of the International Department of the Eurasian Republican Institute Stevie Nicks commented on the title of the hearing: "Business as usual?" He noted that this, unfortunately, is very successful title in today’s pre-election situation, because Belarusian authorities "deny their people basic rights, that in the voting process their voice heard"And cautioned that today’s elections are unlikely in this sense will differ from the past.
Agreeing that in the near future the Belarusian authorities have taken steps that cause "usmotritelny optimism," S.Niks warned that the upcoming elections can not look through rose-colored glasses and the need to closely monitor the events of the election campaign, and specifically in the election day. He recalled that the consulate of the opposition in the election commissions is only 0.07%.
Summarizing, S. Nix expressed the view that, as it looks, in these elections in Belarus will be "business as usual" and that shows that the results will be overwhelmingly in favor of the regime.
Director of Eurasian National Democratic Institute’s programs of international affairs Laura Jewitt believes that today’s election could be a fundamental event, but not for what is usually associated with the elections. Unlikely to result in them presentable is elected parliament, which will represent the interests of voters, as is the case with democratic elections. L.Zhuit on, and they do not cause dramatic changes in the political system of Belarus, as it happened in some other countries in the region. But Mr.etyya elections can be noted by their own "role as barometru improve relations between Belarus and the West."
L.Zhuit led six criteria by which it will be possible to judge the configurations in the electoral situation in Belarus:
— Will the all 77 registered candidates from the opposition in the election race to a day or elections?
— Will the members of the opposition in the election commissions at various levels to produce their rights and responsibilities?
— Will the opposition candidates have the opportunity to extensively test their own company?
— Will the opposition candidates have access to municipal media slot official "five-minute" on radio and television?
— Will the local and international observers full access to monitor all phases of the electoral process, including the counting of votes?
— Whether the alleged violation of the electoral process tribute adequately addressed and the perpetrators punished?
If the answer to most of these questions is "no", says L.Zhuit, it will be possible to conclude that in these elections in Belarus will be "business as usual." If the answers are positive, it will be evidence that "Belarus is doing at least a modest effort in response to concerns about the U.S. and Europe in order to achieve the lifting of sanctions and make better their position in relation to the Russian Federation." Such efforts, views L.Zhuit could expand political space for democracy in the country.
Director of Euro-Asian Department of the State Endowment for Democracy Roger Potocki noted that the regime in Minsk has chosen a new approach to elections in comparison with the past, but these relate to the configuration, faster style than the nature of the case and have a tactical nature. Lukashenko wants to hold a "peaceful elections" to show "progress" on several fronts and look in a positive light to the West, while achieving all of this in advance predictable results.
By R.Patotskaga now calculated first organization of elections in the U.S. and European consumers in order to improve the international style of Belarus. Belarusian CEC announced its own right main purpose "international recognition of the election results by society."
R.Patotski noted that as the power of the democratic opposition favorite also recognized a major role in the electoral process for the international community. Concentrating their efforts in the competition with the authorities for verbovanie Western attention, instead of conducting the campaign, the opposition distracts attention from the Belar
usian electorate problems. OSCE observers assessed the election campaign as "quiet." Opposition calls for a boycott of the elections, R.Patotskaga threaten reincarnate elections only "international show."
In Russian times reminded R.Patotski, Belarus called "quiet republic." Currently authorities are doing everything possible to these "quiet election" liked the West. But the "sounds of silence", reaching from Minsk, suggests that these elections will not be free and fair. Answering the question posed in the title hearings R.Patotski noted that now will not be "business as usual", but in the upcoming elections will rule the spirit of deception.
Tags: commission, rkreymer, Helsinki