The Socialist International Committee for the CIS and the Caucasus, meeting in Kiev on 16-17 December 2005, calls upon the Belarusian authorities to ensure free and fair presidential elections in 2006. The International recalls the recent democratic change in Ukraine and expects the Belarusian authorities to abandon its authoritarianism.
The continuing oppression of democratic forces in Belarus should not be tolerated any longer and the International calls on its member parties, as well as the European Union, Russia, and the international organisations for democracy in the world, to take a firm stand for democratic change in Belarus.
The International deplores the climate of fear and intimidation imposed by the government of Alexander Lukashenko during the run-up to the upcoming presidential elections and the repressive measures taken against members of the opposition and the press.
The Socialist International calls on the Belarusian authorities to immediately stop politically motivated arrests and trials of activists in the democratic movement and of independent journalists, as well as deportations of foreign citizens.
It condemns the arrest and imprisonment by the Belarusian authorities of demonstrators in Minsk, including Mikalai Statkevich, Chair of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Narodnaya Hramada), a member party of the Socialist International, and other members of opposition parties in the country, and calls upon the government to immediately release all those detained.
Over the past few years several political parties, 22 independent newspapers, more than 50 pro-democracy NGOs of different levels and political persuasions and several educational establishments have been closed down for 'technical' reasons, but it is clear that in every case these organisations were being punished for criticising the President and his policies, as reported by various European regional institutions.
The International also reminds the Belarusian authorities that no progress has been made in the unsolved cases of a number of disappeared persons.
The International again expresses its full solidarity with the political forces and civil society struggling for democracy and basic human rights in Belarus, condemning the systematic undermining of the rights to free expression and free association and the institution of an unlimited number of presidential terms through an undemocratic referendum. The SI reaffirms its support for the right of the people of Belarus to peacefully protest the absence of conditions necessary for free and fair presidential elections in 2006.