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25 January 2023, 11:27

Bill on political parties passes two readings in Belarus

MINSK, 25 January (BelTA) – The bill “On amending the laws on the activities of political parties and other public associations” passed two readings at the meeting of the ninth session of the House of Representatives of the seventh convocation on 25 January, BelTA has learned.

The bill was submitted to the House of Representatives by the Council of Ministers. The bill is designed to improve legislation governing social and political relations, as well as to bring legislation into line with the amendments and additions adopted at the constitutional referendum.

The bill was presented at the Oval Hall by Justice Minister Sergei Khomenko. “This document was developed to improve the procedure for the establishment and functioning of political parties and public associations. The bill took into account the outcomes of the discussion of this matter with the head of state and the results of the national referendum on amendments and additions to the Constitution. The document took on board the proposals of the expert council under the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus,” he said.

Amendments are to be introduced to the laws “On political parties” and “On public associations”.

“As far as political parties are concerned, the bill formalizes general goals and objectives that should be reflected in the charters of all political parties and their unions. In particular, this includes the respect for the constitutional order and civil harmony, participation in the country's decision-making through representatives of political parties, and commitment to ensuring social justice. In line with the bill, a number of conditions shall be met to be able to establish and run a political party,” the minister emphasized.

In particular, the bill provides that for a political party to be registered, it should have at least 5,000 members (which represents a significant increase in the threshold). It should also have offices in each region and in Minsk, and in at least one third of districts and cities of regional subordination in all regions of the country and in at least one third of the districts of Minsk. The bill proposes to lift the ban on financing political parties from the central budget or local budgets. The bills seeks to introduce tougher requirements to founders of political parties: these can only be citizens of the Republic of Belarus, permanently residing in the country and who have reached the age of 18.

A governing body of a political party shall be elected at least once in five years. The amount of money and other property received from one organization or individual is limited to 1,000 base amounts per year. In line with the bill, a political party can be disbanded in the event of war propaganda, terrorist, extremist and other activities prohibited by law, activities that harm state and (or) public interests, as well as the receipt of funds and other property from foreign sources. The bill lays out general goals and objectives of politician parties that shall be enshrined in their statutes, along with other goals and objectives specific to each political party (respect for the constitutional order and civil harmony, participation in the country's decision-making through representatives, and protection of rights, freedoms and interests of citizens, etc.). Political parties are to be re-registered within six months.

Among the key proposed amendments to the law “On Public Associations” is the obligation for nationwide public associations to have offices in all regions of the country and Minsk. The amendments allow submitting documents for state registration of public associations in electronic form. They also ease requirements for the legal address of a public association.

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