* "New democracies fighting for life"
* Clinton urges nations to rally round and speak out
By Arshad Mohammed and Nerijus Adomaitis
VILNIUS, July 1 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton criticised the repression of peaceful protests in
Belarus on Friday as she urged nations to support fledgling
democratic movements in the Middle East, North Africa and
Speaking at a pro-democracy gathering in Vilnius, about 160
km (100 miles) from the Belarussian capital of Minsk, Clinton
recalled Lithuania's fight against Soviet domination, saying
democracies had a special responsibility to help the oppressed.
"There are new democracies fighting for life. There are
vicious autocrats clinging to power. There are interest groups
pretending to support democracy and only waiting until they can
assume power," Clinton said.
"This is an hour of need. And every democracy should stand
up and be counted," she added in a speech to the Community of
"We should speak out when countries like Belarus brutally
represses the rights of its citizens or where we see opposition
figures facing politically motivated prosecution, or governments
refusing to register political parties," she said.
While she did not cite them by name, Clinton appeared to be
alluding to a trial that got under way on Wednesday against
former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko on charges of
abuse of power as well as to Russia's refusal last month to
register the Party of People's Freedom, or PARNAS.
In the last six months, popular movements have swept
autocrats from power in Tunisia and Egypt and pro-democracy
protests have erupted across the Middle East and North Africa,
facing violent suppression in Libya, Syria and Bahrain.
Clinton said she hoped Egypt would allow international
observers to witness its parliamentary elections this September
and a presidential vote to be held by the end of the year.
She also said the United States would be watching carefully
as parties formed in Tunisia and Egypt to see whether they
support the rights of women, suggesting that no party can claim
democratic legitimacy if it marginalised women.
Clinton acknowledged that the evolution of democracy would
ultimately be decided by the people themselves, an idea echoed
by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis at the
"Democracy cannot be exported or imposed from the outside,"
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