From left to right, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Chris Murphy D-Conn. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
UPDATED 8:59 AM PT – Thursday, June 3, 2021
A bipartisan group of senators have denounced the Lukashenko regime in Belarus for the kidnapping of a prominent opposition journalist. On Tuesday, Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) traveled to Vilnius, Lithuania to demand the release of journalist Roman Protasevich.
Portman demanded the Belorussian regime immediately release Protasevich and his girlfriend, who is a Russian citizen. The Republican senator also stressed his full support for the people of Belarus in their fight for freedom.
The Belorussian opposition continues to vocalize their fear of political persecution even outside of their country. Opposition activist Vasil Kushkurno expressed the terrifying position journalists face as his wife, a well known news editor, has recently been arrested.
“It’s a very dangerous occupation in this dangerous time,” he mentioned. “The people were tired and they just wanted to have a chance to change. We cannot express our position…but nobody has changed his mind.”
Sen. Portman also reaffirmed his support for the increased U.S. sanctions on the Lukashenko regime until the detained journalist is released.