Shaheen Statement in Response to Latest Crackdown on Belarusian Media by Lukashenka Regime

July 16, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and Chair of the Europe and Regional Security Cooperation SFRC Subcommittee, issued the following statement in response to reports that Belarusian authorities raided the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty office in Minsk, as well as the homes of journalists, and detained multiple members of the press.

“Lukashenka’s increasing aggression against the free media and political opposition must be met with fierce rebuke and condemnation from the international community. Lukashenka cannot be allowed to criminalize journalists and the media, which is not only a critical component of democracy but also a deeply respected value among international society. The United States has demonstrated before and must continue to remind Lukashenka and his thugs that we are watching and there will be consequences for this bellicose behavior,” said Shaheen. “I stand with the journalists in Belarus who are risking their lives to shed light on the truth and for the Belarusian people who continue to raise their voices to demand an accountable and transparent government. The United States stands with those fighting for a free and democratic future in Belarus.

Senator Shaheen has led calls in Congress to increase international pressure against Lukashenka’s dictatorship and continued human rights violations. Senator Shaheen recently returned from Eastern Europe, including a stop in Lithuania where she met with Belarusian opposition leader, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, to discuss the Lukashenka regime’s continued human rights abuses against political opposition. Last month, Shaheen lauded the Biden administration’s decision to impose sanctions against Belarusian individuals and entities to hold the Lukashenka regime to account for its aggression. Shaheen recently penned an op-ed in USA Today on why the West must come together to address the political situation in Belarus. A leader in Congress in support of reaffirming the U.S.’ role on the world stage, strengthening its relationship with the transatlantic community and in support of pro-democracy reform around the world, Shaheen re-established the bipartisan Senate NATO Observer Group with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) in 2018.

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