„I am convinced that the growing pressure from the authorities will eventually lead to a social outburst“ – said Uladzimir Niaklayev, a former presidential candidate, in an interview with Belsat.
In a statue adopted yesterday by the Belarusian parliament, KGB – a state security agency – was granted almost unlimited scope of power. It has to be signed by the president before it becomes a law. According to the new regulations, protests without explicit government approval will be treated as illegal. Receiving financial support from abroad by parties and organizations becomes a criminal offence. KGB officers will gain more powers, such as using weapons and coercive measures in cases arbitrarily decided by the Belarusian president.
„It is a very dangerous trend. It means Lukashenka chose a path of repressions, a path of intimidating the society. It means Lukashenka chose a path of strengthening the dictatorship.“ – said Niaklayev. – „All our efforts from before the presidential elections, as well as some of the officials efforts to build an agreement with the West, were in vain. He [Lukashenka] directed everything in a whole different direction.“
The new law bans „operating of social organizations and labor unions, whose goal is to provide privileges and benefits coming from the foreign governments, for the Belarusian citizens based on their political or religious views or national origin.“
Niaklayev believes the new statue might just result in quite the opposite – Belarusian opposition will intensify its actions in response to the pressure. „If they prohibit something – I’ll do my best to overcome the unjust ban. Financing the opposition will not be interrupted, nor will be the opposition’s work.“ A proof, said Niaklayev, would be the fact that lots of new people, previously never engaged in politics, are joining the ranks of the opposition.
Belarusian civil society groups protested yesterday the new law. „The changes in law are intended to limit civic rights and liberties, they hinder a social dialogue and sharpen confrontations in Belarus“ – it was written is a special statement signed by Belarusian Helsinki Committee and Belarusian Journalists Association. The authors also claimed that the new powers granted to KGB „free them from any form of control and de facto puts KGB above the law“.
Belarusian activists are pointing to the fact that the new statues and the following amendments to the criminal and administrative code were proposed by the government in June, but no public debate on the proposed changes has been held since June. „These extremely important legal regulations“ were adopted in a very untransparent, obscure manner.
The activists have appealed to the president Aleksander Lukashenka not to sign the new law. They also called on the Constitutional Court to ban the law based on its authority to prevent violations of constitution and civic liberties. Belarusian Pen-Center and Council of Belarusian Intelligentsia were among other groups that signed the statement.