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06 February 2023, 14:14

Belarus' prosecutor general comments on commission for people wishing to return home

Andrei Shved
Andrei Shved

MINSK, 6 February (BelTA) – Belarus' Prosecutor General Andrei Shved detailed the decree on the commission for people who want to return to their homeland as he spoke to the media after his meeting with Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko on 6 February, BelTA has learned.

According to him, the document describes not only the composition of the commission (two-thirds of it consists of representatives of the public, well-known people) but also defines the conditions and procedure for consideration of applications from Belarusian citizens living abroad.

“The document covers the period of possible or committed offenses from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2023. People may apply to the commission by mail or over the internet. The decree specifies the requirements for such an application, the list of documents that must be attached. It also specifies the decisions to be made by the commission. Everything is open and clear. There will be an open and free voting by the commission members on each case,” the prosecutor general said.

In his words, no one is forced to return home or apply to the commission. “This is a goodwill gesture on the part of our state. In order to remove all kinds of provocations, the decree has a separate provision regarding the persons in respect of whom the commission has made a decision. Such persons can make use of it within a period of three months,” Andrei Shved said.

According to him, the decree provides for the possibility of implementing all legal norms aimed at releasing the person from liability or changing the preventive measure. "Most importantly is when this person, having received a document stating that the state has no claims against them or that a preventive measure has been changed, or that some other decision has been taken, may enter the Republic of Belarus safely. They will have a guarantee that in the event of any grievances on the part of law enforcement it is only with the consent of the Prosecutor General or a person acting on his behalf that procedural measures or some legal decision may be taken. This is very important," the prosecutor general said.

They have started publishing the information abroad on this subject and making attempts to intimidate people not to return to their homeland. This is because the destructive forces are using Belarusian citizens for their own gains, for making money. "It's clear and obvious," he said.

In this regard, the prosecutor general gave a recommendation to everyone who wants to return to Belarus: "Think for yourself. Think about your relatives, friends, and children. Think everything through, weigh pros and cons, read up. Everything is clear."

Speaking about the powers of the commission, he said that it will approach each case individually."The decree defines the types of decisions that the commission may take. If we come to the understanding that a person made a mistake, succumbed to emotions and influence (the information influence and pressure were tremendous at that time) and that they sincerely repent now, we will recommend that law enforcement agencies make a procedural decision, for example, to stop criminal prosecution. The commission notifies a person about this: ‘Indeed, there were criminal proceedings against you but they were stopped as of this particular date. You have the right to enter the country safely. There are no claims against you." Unless a person has hidden something, has committed a crime no one knows about, then I say that law applies equally to everyone," Andrei Shved explained.

The commission will include about 30 people. They will convene as the materials for each case are ready. An application shall be considered within two months, or three months in exceptional cases.

As BelTA reported earlier, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko signed the decree on the commission for people wishing to return home on 6 February.

“I also looked at the composition [of the commission] and other things. If we did not include anything in the decree, the prosecutor general has enough power to engage the entire state apparatus, civil servants to solve this issue,” the head of state said.

“We should look not only at the so-called opposition in exile. There can be others. They understand very well that we will find them anyway. Some people will apply to the commission and it will sort things out,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The president asked not to force anyone back to Belarus. “They started claiming that ‘Lukashenko wants them back to put behind bars'. They will read the decree and see how the commission is going to work,” he said.

The head of state stressed that the authorities are not going to deprive anyone of their liberty. On the other hand, people who have deserved punishment are unlikely to appeal to the commission. he noted

"If they apply, we'll consider. Everything will be according to the law. But most importantly, we are not dragging anyone here by force. You correctly proposed an application-based principle (over the internet or by mail). We are not going to drag people here by force to imprison them, as they claim, or even to speak to them. This is our goodwill, we have demonstrated it. Please contact us, and we will consider your applications. If you don't want to, stay there. If you want to fight, please go ahead. If you want to sweep the streets, you are welcome. Not everyone can fight; not everyone will be taken to the front. Sweep the streets, wash the dishes. Those who are more prepared will be carrying ammunition for the guns in Poland or Lithuania. It's their choice. We are not forcing anyone or insisting on anything in this regard," the Belarusian leader said.

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