Accessibility links

Breaking News

Belarusian Parliament Approves Law To Muzzle Dissent

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (file photo) (epa) 2 December 2005 -- Parliament in Belarus has overwhelmingly approved a controversial bill aimed at muzzling dissent against the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Deputies in the Chamber of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, voted 97 to four to back amendments to the Criminal Code that provide tough penalties for anyone convicted of inciting demonstrations or spreading information deemed to discredit Belarus.

Under the new law, public appeals for the overthrow of the government or "the forcible change of the constitutional system" would be punishable with prison terms of up to three years.

Spreading of "false" information about the situation in Belarus would be punishable by up to two years in prison. Critics of the law say it is aimed to prevent upheavals like Ukraine's Orange revolution one year ago.

Lukashenka submitted the bill to parliament on 23 November for "urgent" consideration. Two days later, deputies passed it in a first reading.


RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, And Moldova Report

RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, And Moldova Report

SUBSCRIBE For weekly news and analysis on Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova by e-mail, subscribe to "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, And Moldova Report."

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.