Belarus Democracy Act of 2004

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The Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 is a United States federal law that authorizes assistance for political parties, non-governmental organizations, and independent media working for democracy and human rights in Belarus.[1] The act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, by voice vote, on October 4, 2004; was passed by the U.S. Senate, by unanimous consent, on October 6, 2004; and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 20, 2004.[2] It is codified, as amended, at 22 U.S.C. 5811 note.[3]

The law expresses the sense of Congress that the Belarusian authorities should not receive various types of non-humanitarian financial aid from the U.S. It also calls for the President to report to Congress on arms sales by Belarus to state sponsors of terrorism and on the personal wealth and assets of senior Belarus officials.[1]

The U.S., said President Bush in his signing statement of October 20, 2004, "will work with our allies and partners to assist those seeking to return Belarus to its rightful place among the Euro-Atlantic community of democracies."[4]

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, according to a October 26, 2004 editorial in the Voice of America, that the U.S. is concerned about the Belarusian government's increasingly repressive steps against independent media and pro-democracy groups. He said that Belarusian security forces used excessive force against peaceful protesters following the parliamentary elections and referendum.[5]

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his government were highly critical of the act.[6][7]

On December 8, 2006, the United States House of Representatives passed, and (following Senate enactment) on January 12, 2007, President Bush signed into law, the Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act of 2006, a statute amending and updating the act.[8]

On January 3, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Belarus Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2011, further amending and updating the act.[9]

All three bills were introduced by Representative Chris Smith, of New Jersey.

Earlier versions of the act that were introduced in 2001 and 2003 but not enacted into law were more severe, prohibiting travel of Belarusian officials, freezing assets, blocking certain trade, and referring to the role of Russia.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Press Release: President Bush Signs Belarus Democracy Act on Heels of Rigged Elections and Referendum". CSCE. 8 March 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Actions - H.R.854 - 108th Congress (2003-2004): Belarus Democracy Act of 2004". 20 October 2004. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  3. ^ "22 U.S. Code § 5811". LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  4. ^ Bush, President George W. "Statement on the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 (Text Only)". Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Editorial: BELARUS DEMOCRACY ACT". Voice of America. October 26, 2004. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Belarus: Minsk Calls U.S. Belarus Democracy Act An 'Openly Hostile' Move". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. October 21, 2004. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  7. ^ Maksymiuk, Jan (October 7, 2004). "Analysis: Belarusian President Slams U.S. Belarus Democracy Act". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  8. ^ "H.R.5948 - 109th Congress (2005-2006): Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act of 2006". 12 January 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  9. ^ "H.R.515 - 112th Congress (2011-2012): Belarus Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2011". 3 January 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Belarus Democracy and Human Rights Act Passes US Congress Committee". Belarus Digest. April 19, 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2019.

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