Mr. SHIMKUS. Madam Speaker, it's been more than 9 months since the December 19 brutal and bloody crackdown on the opposition in Belarus. Human rights of ordinary Belarusan citizens continue to be denied. Nine political prisoners still exist. Nikolay Statkevich, Andrey Sannikaw, Dmitri Uss, Dmitri Bandarenka, Dmitri Dashkevich, Eduard Lobov, Pavel Severinetz, Ales Belyatsky and Mikalai Autukovich remain in prison, and President Lukashenka is using them to bargain for economic assistance with the international community.
Anatoly Lyabedska, leader of the United Civic Party, described the conditions in the KGB pre-trial detention facility as being cruel and inhumane, and the authorities' actions against opposition activities as being brutal.
For the first time in 17 years, people in Belarus are looking for a real alternative and asking for democratic
change. It is now time to invest in democracy in Belarus. The existing window for the opposition might be temporary. People in Belarus need our support, and we have to be with them until the end of this existing brutal regime.