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Click to enlargepadBelarus Demonstrations in Washington, DC Attracting Growing Attention

JBANC PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release
February 18, 2006
contact: Karl Altau (tel. 301-340-1954)

Washington, DC (JBANC) --- About seventy people gathered outside the Belarus Embassy in Washington, DC on February 16 in support of democracy in that country and to insist that the regime of “Europe’s last dictator” Alexander Lukashenko hold free and fair elections in March.

Members of the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) joined about seventy people at the daylong gathering organized by the civic initiative Poglyad (“Vision”). Stopping by to address the protestors was Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter. Others participating at the event included Slovak ambassador Rastislav Kacer, We Remember Foundation President Irina Krasovskaya, and student journal editor Iryna Vidanava, featured in a December 28 article in The Washington Post.

Joining from JBANC were Board members Ramunas Kondratas (Lithuanian American Council), Janis Bolsteins (American Latvian Association), Erik Puskar (Estonian American National Council), and Managing Director Karl Altau.

Demonstrations have been held in Belarus and throughout Europe and the U.S. on the 16th of every month since last September, the sixth anniversary of the 1999 disappearance and presumed murder of opposition leaders, including the husband of Ms. Krasovskaya. The Lukashenko regime has been increasingly and aggressively suppressing dissent and freedom of speech in that country in what observers believe is an effort to intimidate voters before the March 19 presidential election.

The “16” symbol has become synonymous with the pro-democracy movement and lighting of candles on that date. In addition, the wearing of jeans has led to labeling of this struggle as the “denim revolution.”

Each Washington, DC gathering has drawn increasing interest and attention, witnessed by the presence on February 16 of representatives from the Voice of America, Radio Free-Europe/Radio Liberty, National Public Radio, the London Times, and The Washington Post.

Solidarity protests are to be held again on March 16.

In related news, on February 14, House Baltic Caucus co-chair John Shimkus (R-IL) introduced legislation (H.Res. 673) expressing support for democracy in Belarus, and urging the Government of Belarus to conduct a free and fair presidential election on March 19. The resolution has already garnered the backing of congressmen Elton Gallegly, Thaddeus McCotter, Darrell Issa, and Mike Rogers.

JBANC represents the Estonian American National Council, Inc., the American Latvian Association, Inc. and the Lithuanian American Council, Inc.

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Octobr 17, 2008 - President Bush Discusses the Visa Waiver Program
Office of the Press Secretary/ White House News

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Please be seated, thank you. Welcome to the White House. I'm pleased to stand with the representatives of seven countries -- the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea -- that have met the requirements to be admitted to the United States Visa Waiver Program. Soon the citizens of these nations will be able to travel to the United States for business or tourism without a visa. I congratulate these close friends and allies on this achievement, and I thank you for joining us here.

I also thank Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of the Homeland -- Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for working hard to make sure this day has finally arrived. Appreciate other members of the administration here and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

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