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U.S. Department of State
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Press Statement


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Statement by Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
October 16, 2000

Belarus: Elections on October 15 Were Not Democratic

The United States supports the view of our European allies that the October 15 elections in Belarus were not free, fair, or transparent. The assessment mission of both the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Parliamentary Troika concluded that the elections failed to meet the international norms for democratic elections. The United States does not accept the results of the elections and will continue to accept the democratically elected 13th Supreme Soviet, led by Chairman Semyon Sharetsky, as the legitimate parliament of Belarus.

Free, fair and transparent elections are not defined solely by unhampered balloting on election day. Such balloting is part of the process that makes up a democratic election, which necessarily must also include an unfettered campaign with a free exchange of views. In spite of repeated encouragement by the U.S., EU and OSCE to create a climate necessary for such a campaign, the Belarusian authorities made no significant progress in this area.

On election day, there were reports of extensive irregularities that indicate fraud by the regime. In violation of Belarusian law, ballot boxes were taken door to door and citizens "encouraged" to vote. That the regime was forced to take such extreme measures is evidence that the opposition boycott of elections was effective.

The United States deeply regrets that the Belarusian authorites ignored the desire of a growing number of Belarusian citizens to return to democracy, and strongly condemns the gross abuses committed by the Lukashenko regime during the elections. Presidential elections planned for next year must be free of such abuses, or they too run the risk of not being accepted by the international community.

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