When Belarus’s authoritarian ruler, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, goes to ski in Russia, it is rarely just for a nice vacation. The southern Russian resort town of Sochi, planned site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, is a favored spot for Belarusian and Russian officials to gather and discuss bilateral relations in a relaxing setting. Lukashenka’s trip to Sochi last month was no exception, with official Belarusian media duly reporting that his time on the slopes would be combined with a working visit.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heading to Capitol Hill this week to defend the administration's funding and policy priorities for the next year, which should make for some interesting discussion given the variety of serious issues facing U.S. policymakers. The fiscal year (FY) 2013 State and Foreign Operations Budget, which includes the State Department, USAID, and support for international organizations, was released on February 13 as part of the complete budget request, though full details on many programs will not be made public until next month. As Secretary Clinton appears before the House and Senate foreign relations and appropriations committees, Freedom House would like to see a robust exploration of the administration's foreign policy goals, including its plans to support human rights and democratic development.
Freedom House mourns the death of a beloved member of its family, Walter Schloss. A Board member for over thirty years, many of those as Treasurer, Walter was a true and devoted champion of freedom who provided invaluable support and wise counsel to the organization during his many years of service.
We are deeply concerned by the stabbing of female Jordanian blogger Enass Musallam in Amman, Jordan on Monday, February 21 after she allegedly criticized a member of the royal family in her blog. She currently is in a stable condition. According to the Jordan Times, a man reportedly stabbed Musallam in the stomach and threatened to kill her if she did not stop blogging about political reform in Jordan.