U.S. Department of State
Press Statement by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
Belarus: U.S. Condemns Sentencing of Andrei Klimov
The U.S. condemns the conviction and sentencing on politically motivated charges of Andrei Klimov, a member of the Belarusian 13th Supreme Soviet and a prominent leader of the opposition to the Lukashenko regime's rule in Belarus. The regime's treatment of Mr. Klimov was from the beginning a travesty of justice. He was arrested in February 1998 and held for seventeen months without trial. He was brutally beaten by prison guards on December 12. Only after the intervention of the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group and U.S. Ambassador Speckhard was Mr. Klimov allowed to receive appropriate medical treatment.
This sentence, the continued show trial of former Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Chigir, and the government's ban on further opposition demonstrations demonstrate the authorities' continued rejection of dialogue and unwillingness to establish a climate for free and fair elections that the government plans to hold in the fall. We again call on the Belarusian authorities to take meaningful steps toward genuine dialogue with the democratic opposition and to demonstrate greater respect for fundamental human rights. It will be particularly important for the authorities to respect the people's right to freedom of assembly and ensure that opposition marches planned for this spring are not hindered. Only through such actions can Belarus resolve the current constitutional and political impasse and end its self-imposed international isolation.
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