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Sen. Chris Murphy Introduces Bipartisan Congressional Resolution In Support Of The People Of Belarus

Associated Press
Demonstrators with old Belarusian national flags march during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut has joined with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce a resolution in support of the people of Belarus.  

The Eastern European nation entered its seventh week of massive protests Sunday with calls for authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to resign. Tens of thousands of opposition supporters have taken to the streets after a disputed presidential election in August.

Authorities have responded to peaceful demonstrations with widespread arrests, tear gas and water cannons, according to Amnesty International. More than 6,000 people have been detained, and there are reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees.   

The congressional resolution, introduced by Democratic senators Chris Murphy and Dick Durbin with Republican senators Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez and Jim Risch, calls for the Belarusian president to step back and allow the people to determine their own fate.  

“Congress is going to probably need to step in and play an even firmer role perhaps, to appoint a special envoy or perhaps to increase sanctions against Lukashenka if he continues this campaign of brutal crackdown,” said Murphy.  

The senator stressed that this would traditionally be a moment when the United States would step up and support the Belarusian people. But President Donald Trump has stayed almost completely silent and pushed leadership off onto the European Union, according to Murphy. 

The resolution also calls for Russia to stop backing Lukashenka’s crackdown on political dissent. “And as far as we can tell, he has not raised any of these issues with Putin directly,” said Murphy. 

“The world notices when the United States stops taking leadership on democracy promotion,” Murphy said. “This has really severe implications for U.S. leadership in the world when we are essentially abdicating our traditional role of standing up for pro-democracy movements.”

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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