Belarusian authorities prevent civil society activist from travelling to OSCE meeting

Viktar Karniayenka, a co-chair of the civil initiative For Fair Elections, was invited to attend the two-day Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Democratic Elections and Election Observation, which starts today in Vienna. It is noteworthy that Lidziya Yarmoshyna, the Head of the Central Election Commission, did not receive any personal invitation.
At the National airport, shortly before the flight, a travel ban stamp was put to Viktar Karniayenka’s passport. “I even took a picture of the stamp and my boarding pass,” the oppositionist said.
On July 11, Karniayenka’s house in Fanipal (Minsk region) was searched, the books on election observation being seized.
As for Lidziya Yarmoshyna, who is on the European Union’s entry ban list over her role in suspected election fraud, she headed for Vienna on July 12 to attend an OSCE conference. The official had been granted an Austrian visa despite being on the European Union’s visa blacklist.
Thomas Rymer, spokesperson for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights that organized the conference, revealed that Ms. Yarmoshyna had received no personal invitation to the event, Belarusian news company Belapan reports. According to him, only keynote speakers receive personal invitations to such conferences, while other participants have to simply get registered on the OSCE website.
Whether or not to allow Ms. Yarmoshyna to travel to Vienna is not within the jurisdiction of the OSCE and granting the official a visa to attend the conference was the decision of the Austrian authorities and the European Union, Mr. Rymer said.
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