On April 21, at a press conference dedicated to the results of her talks with Lithuania's president Valdas Adamcus, C. Rice called Byelorussia "the last dictatorship in Central Europe" and said that "the time has come for changes" in that country.
Byelorussian authorities immediately condemned C. Rice's statement. Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission for International Affairs and Security, Nikolai Cherghinets, called her statement "a sedition to overthrow a legitimately elected authority in Byelorussia", "a return to the times of the cold war" and flagrant interference in Byelorussia's internal affairs. "Regretfully, there are still some politicians who are pushing the world towards very dangerous developments", added N. Cherghinets.
Byelorussian Deputy Foreign Minister, Viktor Gaisenok, seconded the parliamentarian: "It is for the people of Byelorussia to choose their political system, to define their destinies, not the US State Secretary". Speaker of the Chamber of Representatives of the Byelorussian parliament, Vladimir Konoplev, suggested the US government first clear up its own house, "the site of the world's toughest dictatorship".
The US would not stop at that. At its session of April 21, the US Senate unanimously approved a bill introduced by the Bush administration proposing additional expenditure from the US federal budget for the current year. The bill requests, in particular, the allocation of $5 mln for the promotion of democracy in Byelorussia.
Within the limits of the approved allocation, $5 mln should be made available for the implementation of democracy programs in Byelorussia, which will be conducted under the auspices of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the US Department of State, the document says.