Shaheen Highlights Importance of U.S. Policy in Belarus in Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing

June 09, 2021

belarus hearing

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the only woman and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today pushed for a strengthened response to the oppressive Lukashenka regime during a hearing on U.S. policy on Belarus. She thanked the Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who Shaheen met with in Lithuania last week, for her courage and leadership, and signaled U.S. support for democracy in Belarus. She also discussed supporting free and fair elections and an independent media in Belarus with the U.S. Ambassador to Belarus, Julie Fisher, and the President and CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.  

Shaheen began by asking Ambassador Fisher about the implications of a closer union between Lukashenko and Putin. She then asked the ambassador how the U.S. can best support frontline allies like Lithuania, with whom she met last week, and Poland as they support the democratic opposition.  

You can watch Shaheen’s full questioning to the first panel of witnesses here. 

Later when opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya testified in front of the committee, Shaheen thanked Tsikhanouskaya for her courage and bravery in standing up to the Lukashenka regime and its abuse of human rights. She expressed concern around Putin’s efforts to partner with Lukashenka to quash free and fair elections in Belarus, and asked Tsikhanouskaya how their union would impact the opposition’s efforts.  

Shaheen concluded by commending the RFE/RL’s commitment to reporting the truth to oppressed citizens across Eastern Europe despite great personal danger to themselves and their families. Given these challenges, she asked Mr. Fly how Congress can support their efforts in the face of Putin’s criminalization of these truth-tellers. 

You can watch Shaheen’s full questioning to the second panel of witnesses here. 

Last week, Senator Shaheen led a bipartisan trip with U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) to Eastern Europe. In Lithuania, they met with Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis to discuss the Lukashenka regime’s increasing human rights abuses against political opposition. They also visited Ukraine and Georgia to reaffirm U.S. commitment to these regional partners and promote democratic reforms. The upcoming NATO Summit on June 14th will also highlight developments in Ukraine and Belarus, as well as the future of the Atlantic Alliance.