Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power in Belarus since 1994, has signed a law that gives him lifelong immunity against criminal liability and also prevents opposition leaders living abroad from running in the next presidential elections.
In theory, the law applies to every former president Belarus and members of his family. In fact, it only aims to protect the 69-year-old dictator who has ruled Belarus undividedly since 1994. It assumes that the president and members of his family will be provided with lifetime immunity from criminal liability, including for “acts committed in connection with the exercise of their presidential powers.” The new regulations also provide him with retirement in the amount of the salary of the incumbent president, protection and medical care to which the head of state is entitled. After stepping down, the president will also become a permanent member of the upper house of the Belarusian parliament for life.
Opposition leaders living abroad will not be able to run in the next presidential elections
The new legal regulations also assume that only people who have been citizens of Belarus since birth, are at least 40 years old, have been living in the country continuously for the last 20 years, and have never had a residence permit in Belarus can apply for the office of president. another country. This practically prevents opposition leaders who have been in exile for years for fear of arrest from running, wrote the Associated Press. She added that, in fact, the bill seems aimed at further strengthening Lukashenko’s power and eliminating potential opponents in the future electionswhich are to be held in 2025.
The agency recalled that in August 2020, Belarus was rocked by mass protests after the Lukashenko regime rigged the elections, after which the dictator declared himself president for another, sixth term. Western countries and the opposition unanimously recognized the elections as fraudulent. The Belarusian state apparatus brutally suppressed the protests – several dozen thousand people were arrested and many of them were tortured. A large number of long-term prison sentences were imposed, and many people left Belarus.
Tsikhanouskaya: Lukashenko’s response to the fear of the inevitable future
The leader of the Belarusian opposition in exile Swiatlana Tsikhanouskaya she said the new law is Lukashenko’s response to his “fear of the inevitable future.”
“Lukashenko, who has destroyed the lives of thousands of Belarusians, will be punished in accordance with international law and no immunity will protect him from this, it is only a matter of time. I assure you that the dictator will be brought to justice,” Tsikhanouskaya added, recalling that he is in prison in Belarus approximately 1,500 political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialyatsky.
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