Belarusian opposition activist prevented from travelling abroad


The Belarusian authorities have stopped the leader of the United Civic Party Anatoly Lebedko from leaving the country.  Radio Svoboda reports that law enforcement officers told Lebedko that the ban was connected with criminal proceedings over alleged defamation of Belarus’ President Luksashenko.

Lebedko learned of this from notification sent from the Central police department on citizenship and migration. 

The criminal proceedings are in connection with an interview which the opposition politician gave in 2004 to a newspaper and a Russian television channel. He spoke of the existence of a shadow budget which was being used to buy weapons. This was deemed to be defamation against the President and the Minsk Prosecutor initiated proceedings under Article 367 § 2 of the Criminal Code.

Lebedko points out that according to current legislation it is impossible to appeal against this ruling. “If a citizen falls into one of the six categories of people restricted in travelling abroad, he or she cannot appeal”. He says that he has become the first Belarusian political figure to be prohibited from travelling [“nyevyezdny” was a term common in Soviet times for those who would under no circumstances be allowed to leave the country – translator].  He stresses that this is a dangerous precedent when a person can be stopped from travelling for formal (political and not legal) reasons.

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