Washington, D.C., Oct. 29, 2004 – U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar told the Voice of America that he was “very concerned” about the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine.
The election “is a very important one, not only for Ukraine, but for people around the world who hope that democracy and human rights are going to proceed,” he told VOA’s Albanian Service in an interview broadcast today. “We take it very seriously,” he added, noting that the presence of international monitors during the likely run-off election will “affirm…the importance of democracy in Ukraine.”
Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, said he was also troubled by the latest events in Ukraine’s Eastern European neighbor, Belarus. “The people of Belarus deserve better,” he said regarding the recent controversial presidential referendum. “All…who observed the Belarus elections are very disappointed that the trend against democracy continues to go very strongly.” He called the extension of President Alexander Lukashenko’s term “another nail in the coffin…of democracy.”
Lugar also commented on the situation in Kosovo, saying, “Americans remain deeply interested” in the province’s future. He expressed some doubt, however, that a solution will be reached in the coming year.
The Senator thanked Albania for its cooperation with the Nunn-Lugar Threat Reduction Program and said the U.S. can encourage increased democratization with the help of “Albanians who want to see progress.”
VOA’s Bosnian, Russian, Serbian and Ukrainian Services will also air the interview on their radio and television programs. Links to their websites can be found at www.VOANews.com.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages, including Albanian, Bosnian, Russian, Serbian and Ukrainian.
For more information, contact the Office of Public Affairs at (202) 401-7000, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.