TALLINN, Estonia — President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus signed a brand new legislation Thursday that offers him lifelong immunity from prison prosecution and prevents opposition leaders residing overseas from operating in future presidential elections.
The legislation theoretically applies to any former president and members of his or her household. In actuality, it solely is related to the 69-year-old Lukashenko, who has dominated Belarus with an iron fist for nearly 30 years.
The brand new measure seems aimed toward additional shoring up Lukashenko’s energy and eliminating potential challengers within the nation’s subsequent presidential election, which is because of happen in 2025.
The legislation considerably tightens necessities for presidential candidates and makes it unattainable to elect opposition leaders who fled to neighboring international locations in recent times. Solely residents of Belarus who’ve completely resided within the nation for at the least 20 years and have by no means had a residence allow overseas are eligible to run.
Belarus was rocked by mass protests throughout Lukashenko’s controversial re-election in August 2020 for a sixth time period, which the opposition and the West condemned as fraudulent. At the moment, Belarusian authorities detained greater than 35,000 folks, a lot of whom had been tortured in custody or left the nation.
Lukashenko additionally has been accused of involvement within the unlawful switch of kids from Russian-occupied cities in Ukraine to Belarus.
In keeping with the textual content of the brand new legislation, Lukashenko, had been he to depart energy, “can’t be held accountable for actions dedicated in reference to exercising his presidential powers.”
The legislation additionally says the president and members of his household will likely be supplied with lifelong state safety, medical care, life and health insurance. After resigning, the president would additionally turn out to be a everlasting lifelong member of the higher home of parliament.
Opposition chief Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled to neighboring Lithuania in 2020, stated the brand new legislation is Lukashenko’s response to his “concern of an inevitable future,” suggesting Lukashenko should be involved about what occurs to him when he leaves energy.
“Lukashenko, who ruined the fates of 1000’s of Belarusians, will likely be punished in accordance with worldwide legislation, and no immunity will defend him in opposition to this, it’s solely a matter of time,” Tikhanovskaya stated.
The nation’s political opposition is in search of an investigation into the disappearances of opposition politicians and the removing of Ukrainian youngsters from Ukraine.
“We’ll be certain that the dictator is delivered to justice,” Tikhanovskaya stated, emphasizing that there are nonetheless about 1,500 political prisoners behind bars in Belarus, together with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski.