3 December 2005 -- The West is expressing strong concerns about Belarus, a day after the country's lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Representatives, passed legislation intended to curb attempts at popular protests against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack early today warned that
full adoption of the bill could result in what he called "serious
consequences for Belarusian authorities."
Europe's biggest security and rights body, the Organization for
Security and Cooperation and Europe (OSCE), said it is "gravely concerned"
about the legislation. An OSCE statement said the bill's provisions
"have the potential to become a flagrant violation of a number of the
OSCE principles and commitments that Belarus has subscribed to."
But the Belarusian security service, the KGB, said the legislation is necessary as the country prepares for a
poll next year to prevent street protests such as those that brought
opposition leaders to power in the former Soviet republics of Georgia,
Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan.
The bill now goes to the upper house, the Council of the Republic, for final approval.