Belarus’ new constitution approved, 530 people detained in protests

Belarus' new constitution approved, 530 people detained in protests

The new Constitution of Belarus was approved by referendum, Russian news agencies wrote on the basis of the Election Commission. According to the media, 65% of voters voted in favor of the constitutional amendments. Turnout will be 78 percent.

The Electoral Commission website cannot be reached. Other government websites and the Belta state news agency were also inaccessible for hours.

The result is not verifiable, because independent observers are not welcome in the country. Elections in the country of dictator Lukashenko under authoritarian control are characterized by widespread fraud. The human rights organization Viasna has already published numerous violations of the voting process during election days.

Lukashenko inviolable

The constitution is being amended on many points and appears to be aimed at protecting President Lukashenko. For example, (former) presidents cannot be prosecuted for crimes they committed while they were in office. It also complicates participation in presidential elections. For example, candidates may not have lived abroad for the past 20 years. This excludes the leader of the opposition to refugees Tikhanovskaya from the upcoming elections.

The so-called Belarusian People’s Assembly will also gain more strength. This is an unelected board of government officials and corporate executives, which will have the power to impeach the president. Analysts expect Lukashenko to head the board so that he has control over who succeeds him.

The pursuit of neutrality and a world free of nuclear weapons was also omitted from the Constitution. This makes it possible to place Russian nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus.

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Hundreds of arrests

Opposition leader Svetlana Tikanovskaya had previously called for protests at polling stations over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is being implemented in part from Belarus. According to the human rights organization Viasna, at least 530 people were arrested in those protests. The largest protest was in the capital, Minsk, but people also took to the streets in other parts of the country.

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