Belarusian opposition asks for support for its Constitution bill

  • 2021-10-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Belarus' opposition has asked for the West's support for their drafted new Constitution bill, and also to continue supporting the democratic fight against the Lukashenko regime.

Anatoly Liabedzka, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's representative for the constitutional reform and work with the parliamentary community, says they will seek support at the European Commission for Democracy through Law, better known as the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe's independent advisory body on constitutional matters.

"We have a new Constitution bill. It's been a long way, and it’s now very important for us to receive a conclusion from the Venice Commission. We cannot turn to this body directly, therefore, we hope for the Parliamentary Assembly's assistance. Such cooperation would be very important, especially in a situation when Lukashenko is organizing its own referendum like a special military operation," Liabedzka told a press conference at the Lithuanian Seimas on Tuesday.

He also points out to the fact that the Minsk regime has recently appointed a number of close people to high-ranking positions, for example, the justice minister, ahead of the referendum.

"The justice minister's first task is probably to clear that political field from opposition parties as it's the only place that's not been cleared in Belarus. And, of course, it will be a certain legal justification for the referendum," he said.

In his words, the opposition's bill is an important counterbalance to the Minsk regime's official referendum on the Constitution, aimed atr consolidating the government's legitimacy and further restrict citizens' rights.

Volha Kavalkova, a member of Tsikhanouskaya's Coordination Council, says the opposition's pressure is aimed at the regime but it is open to "ordinary people".

"Therefore, we need education programs, scholarships for Belarusian students, facilitated or lifted visa regimes for people in Belarus to feel the European Union's support. It would be a major political step for Belarus," she said.

In her words, the Minsk regime's consideration to strip people leaving Belarus and speaking out against the regime of their citizenship should also be viewed as violations of human rights as the Constitution guarantees citizens' right to an opinion.

Political unrest in Belarus against Lukashenko's rule spanning almost three decades have been taking place since the contested presidential election in August, 2020. The country's law enforcement forces used violence against protested and detained over 35,000 people, with key opposition figures imprisoned or forced to flee the country. Independent media outlets also faced searched and their journalists were detained.

The European Union later imposed sanctions for a number of Belarus officials and then introduced sectoral sanctions for Belarus, including its trade in potassium fertilizers. Sanctions for Belarus have also been imposed by the United States, the UK and Canada.