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2021.10.19 16:24

Belarusian opposition in Lithuania presents alternative constitution, asks for international support

BNS2021.10.19 16:24

Belarus' opposition has asked for the international community to support its alternative constitution, which is being presented in response to plans by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko to hold a referendum on the country's existing constitution.

The opposition, represented by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the frontrunner against Alexander Lukashenko in the August 2020 presidential election, plans to seek support via the Venice Commission, which is an independent body on constitutional matters at the Council of Europe.

"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,” Anatoly Liabedzka from Tikhanovskaya’s headquarters told the Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday.

“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 organising his own referendum like a special military operation," he added.

Liabedzka said that the Minsk regime has recently appointed a number of people close to Alexander Lukashenko, including the new justice minister, to various high-ranking positions.

"The justice minister's first task is probably to clear that political field from opposition parties [...]. And, of course, it will be a certain legal justification for the referendum," Liabedzka said.

The opposition's bill is an important counterbalance to the Minsk regime's official referendum on the constitution, he added.

Volha Kavalkova, a member of Tikhanovskaya’s Coordination Council, said the opposition's constitution is open to “ordinary people".

"Therefore, we need education programmes, 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.

Officials in Minsk have recently announced the country may remove Belarusian citizenship from people who have fled the country. Kavalkova said the move would constitute a violation of human rights.

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