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S 735

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 735

To reauthorize the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

April 6 (legislative day, April 5), 2011

Mr. KERRY introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations


A BILL

To reauthorize the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act of 2011'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Section 2 of the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 (Public Law 109-480; 22 U.S.C. 5811 note) is amended to read as follows:

`SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    `Congress makes the following findings:

      `(1) The United States Government supports a prosperous and democratic Belarus that upholds the rule of law and respects the fundamental rights of its citizens, including rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression.

      `(2) The United States Government remains committed to the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Belarus and supports its integration into the Euro-Atlantic community of nations.

      `(3) The Government of Belarus has engaged in a pattern of clear and systematic abuse of state authority, including through a series of fraudulent elections that have undermined the democratic process and deprived the people of Belarus of a voice in the conduct of public affairs.

      `(4) The Government of Belarus has subjected thousands of political activists, civil society representatives, and independent journalists to harassment and intimidation, creating a climate of fear that has weakened the bond of trust between the people of Belarus and their government.

      `(5) On December 19, 2010, the Government of Belarus conducted flawed and undemocratic presidential elections that were marred by significant misconduct, including--

        `(A) the detention of numerous opposition and civil society representatives;

        `(B) the use of disproportionate force against pro-democracy political activists, journalists, and opposition candidates; and

        `(C) the disruption of independent broadcast and Internet media, including Gmail, Hotmail, Charter97.org, euroradio.by, gazetaby.com, and zapraudu.info.

      `(6) After the December 19, 2010, presidential election, the Government of Belarus detained or arrested more than 600 political activists, journalists, civil society representatives, and seven of the nine presidential candidates, depriving them of their liberty, access to legal counsel, and communication with their families.

      `(7) After the December 19, 2010, presidential election, security services of the Government of Belarus conducted raids at the offices and homes of journalists, political activists, and civil society representatives, including searches and seizures of equipment at opposition and non-governmental organizations, effectively curtailing their ability to operate.

      `(8) After the December 19, 2010, presidential election, Belarus officials initiated criminal proceedings against an estimated 40 defendants, disbarred several opposition defense lawyers, and closed the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) Office in Minsk, violating its commitment as a participating state of the Organization for Security and Cooperation.

      `(9) On March 17, 2011, the Senate passed unanimously Senate Resolution 105, condemning the December 19, 2010, presidential election as `illegitimate, fraudulent, and not representative of the will or the aspirations of the voters in Belarus'.'.

SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF POLICY.

    Section 3 of the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 (Public Law 109-480; 22 U.S.C. 5811 note) is amended to read as follows:

`SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF POLICY.

    `It is the policy of the United States--

      `(1) to continue its support of those in the Republic of Belarus seeking--

        `(A) to promote representative government, human rights, and the rule of law and to preserve and strengthen the sovereignty and independence of Belarus; and

        `(B) to promote the integration of Belarus into the Euro-Atlantic community of nations;

      `(2) to commend the democratic opposition in Belarus for their commitment to fundamental human freedoms, their courage in the face of authoritarianism and repression, and their struggle to forge a vibrant civil society, which is the foundation for the institutions of democratic governance;

      `(3) to condemn the conduct of the December 19, 2010, presidential election in Belarus and violent crackdown on opposition candidates, political activists, journalists, and civil society representatives;

      `(4) to call on the Government of Belarus to release immediately all those who have been unjustly detained for exercising their basic rights;

      `(5) to continue to refuse to accept as legitimate the results of the December 19, 2010, presidential election, and to support calls for new presidential and parliamentary elections that are free, fair, and consistent with the obligations of the Republic of Belarus as a participating state of the Organization for Security and Cooperation;

      `(6) to support the continued application of targeted European Union and United States sanctions, including both visa bans and asset freezes, against officials and responsible associates in Belarus until such time as the Government of Belarus treats its people with the dignity and respect they deserve;

      `(7) to call upon other members of the international community, including the Government of the Russian Federation, to use their influence in Belarus to promote the purposes of this Act;

      `(8) to expand both material and technical assistance to the people of Belarus and to Belarusian civil society, including--

        `(A) support for strengthening regional independent media in Belarus;

        `(B) support for strengthening online independent media, to include creating mobile-friendly content and multimedia content; and

        `(C) support for expanding the capacity of non-government organizations and civil society in Belarus, with a focus on reaching women and youth;

      `(9) to continue to coordinate our actions with the European Union and other countries and international organizations to promote the democratic development of the Republic of Belarus and its integration into the Euro-Atlantic community of nations; and

      `(10) to remain open to reevaluating United States policy toward Belarus as warranted and provided that all political prisoners detained arbitrarily as a result of the presidential elections of December 19, 2010, are released.'.

SEC. 4. ASSISTANCE TO PROMOTE DEMOCRACY AND CIVIL SOCIETY IN BELARUS.

    Section 4 of the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 (Public Law 109-480; 22 U.S.C. 5811 note) is amended--

      (1) in subsection (b)--

        (A) by striking `primarily for indigenous' and inserting `for independent, indigenous'; and

        (B) by inserting `and that are capable of absorbing international assistance' before the period at the end;

      (2) in subsection (c)--

        (A) by amending paragraph (1) to read as follows:

      `(1) facilitating the development of independent, indigenous print, radio, television, and Internet broadcasting working within Belarus and from locations outside Belarus;'; and

      (3) in subsection (d)(1), by striking `such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2007 and 2008' and inserting `such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2012 through 2014'.

SEC. 5. RADIO AND TELEVISION BROADCASTING TO BELARUS.

    Section 5 of the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 (Public Law 109-480; 22 U.S.C. 5811 note) is amended to read as follows:

`SEC. 5. RADIO, TELEVISION, AND INTERNET BROADCASTING TO BELARUS.

    `It is the sense of Congress that the President should continue to support Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America broadcasting to the people of Belarus to ensure access to objective and timely information about domestic and global public affairs.'.

SEC. 6. SANCTIONS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT OF BELARUS.

    Section 6(b) of the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 (Public Law 109-480; 22 U.S.C. 5811 note) is amended--

      (1) in paragraph (1), by inserting `or expression, including those individuals jailed based on political beliefs or expression in connection with the presidential election of December 19, 2010' before the period at the end;

      (2) in paragraph (2), by inserting `, including politically motivated legal charges made in connection with the presidential election of December 19, 2010' before the period at the end; and

      (3) in paragraph (5), by inserting `and abridgements of fundamental freedoms, including abridgements of fundamental freedoms committed in connection with the presidential election of December 19, 2010' before the period at the end.

SEC. 7. REPORT.

    Section 8(a) of the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 (Public Law 109-480; 22 U.S.C. 5811 note) is amended in the matter preceding paragraph (1)--

      (1) by striking `this Act' and inserting `the Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act of 2011'; and

      (2) by inserting `and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe' after `appropriate congressional committees'.

SEC. 8. DEFINITIONS.

    Section 9 of the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 (Public Law 109-480; 22 U.S.C. 5811 note) is amended--

      (1) in paragraph (1), by striking `Committee on International Relations' and inserting `Committee on Foreign Affairs'; and

      (2) in paragraph (3)(C), by striking `Lukashenka regime' and inserting `Government of Belarus'.

END