|05MINSK1164||2005-09-23 13:55:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Minsk|
1. (U) On September 19 Minister of Justice Viktor Golovanov
signed a "postanovlenie" (ruling, or ordinance) regulating
the political activities of Belarusians. Specifically, the
ruling demands that, "Before conducting any events of a
political character or forming any blocs of political
parties, or blocs of political parties and trade unions, or
creating any kind of 'movements,' 'initiatives,'
'coalitions,' unions of citizens or legal entities," the
bloc/coalition/movement must be registered with the MOJ.
It goes on to say that this ruling applies to any
organization "that shows the signs of having political
goals." The ruling states that activity by an unregistered
group is illegal, but does not prescribe a punishment.
2. (C) Econoff met with Vladimir Labkovich and Vladimir
Stepanovich, lawyers with the deregistered human rights NGO
Vyasna, on September 22. They explained that a MOJ
postanovlenie is not a law, but de facto it will have the
weight of law. This ruling violates both the Citizen's
Codex and the old and new (not yet in force) laws "On
Political Parties," but the human rights lawyers do not
think that will affect its implementation. Labkovich and
Stepanovich both believe this ruling is designed to hurt
the opposition before the 2006 presidential elections, and
provides one more excuse to give political parties legal
warnings, and possibly revoke their registration.
3. (C) Comment: This ruling is clearly aimed at the
political opposition, currently consisting of one main
(10+) and three smaller coalitions (European Coalition,
Free Belarus, Voitovich/Frolov/Leonov). Although
Lukashenko recently made the surprise announcement that the
GOB would help the 10+ hold its nominating congress in
Minsk (ref A), this decree and other recent actions, such
as liquidating the majority of the parties' local branches
(ref B), probably demonstrate the true intentions of the
Lukashenko regime and its desire to neuter all competition
before the elections.