The bill «On the Protection of Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty of Belarus (HR8438) was approved by the House of Representatives of the US Congress on November 18, 2020 (it was previously approved by the full complement of the Foreign Relations Committee of the House of Representatives). In the future is the support of the Senate, and if that happens, the bill will become Law. This means that the bloody regime of Alexander Lukashenko will suffer a colossal legal blow from overseas.
67-year-old Congressman Chris Smith has represented New Jersey’s 4th District in Congress since 1981. He devoted a significant part of his legislative career to the struggle for human rights, having sponsored the Law «On the Protection of Victims of the Slave Trade and Violence». The congressman also sponsored the laws «On Democracy in Belarus» of 2004, 2006 and 2011.
Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020
This bill expands the President’s authority to impose sanctions related to Belarus to include activities surrounding the disputed 2020 Belarusian presidential election and subsequent government crackdown. The bill also expands authorized assistance to Belarus.
The President may impose visa-blocking sanctions on any alien who (1) is a member of the Central Election Commission of Belarus or assisted in the manipulation of the August 9, 2020, presidential election, (2) is a government official responsible for the crackdown on independent media, (3) is an official of the Union State (an international organization consisting of Belarus and Russia), or (4) is a Russian individual who has significantly participated in the crackdown on the press or human rights abuses related to political repression in Belarus. (The President already has authority to impose such sanctions on certain aliens, such as senior leaders in the government of Belarus.)
The bill also expands authorized assistance related to Belarus to include assistance to (1) counter internet censorship and surveillance technology, (2) support the work of women advocating for freedom and human rights, and (3) support political refugees fleeing the crackdown in Belarus.
In response to recent events in Belarus, Smith, within the US House Foreign Relations Committee, drafted bill HR8438, co-sponsored by US bipartisans, which is a rare consensus among bitter political opponents in the White House.
It is believed that the bill passed by Congress, if passed into law, will be the hardest blow to Lukashenko and his entourage. It contains new provisions, including a strategy to support the activities of independent media. Also, by this document, the Opposition Coordination Council is recognized as a legitimate mediator in the process of transferring power. And it also indicates that the elections were not free and fair.
Also, the bill investigates Lukashenko’s private fortune and the sources of his wealth creation. The authors of HR8438 want to dig into it, and for this purpose the FBI will be involved.
Chris Smith speaking:
«We are also concerned that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Moscow may take actions towards the nationalization of Belarus. If they do this — and this is spelled out in the bill — we will never recognize this and will do our best to rebuff it».
So, if the bill successfully passed by the Senate and is signed by the President of the United States as of that moment, there will be a law in America that does not recognize Alexander Lukashenko as a president, imposes sanctions on his entourage and initiates an FBI investigation into the sources of his funding.