Half-year conditions: amendments to the constitution of Belarus will be collected in six months

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The working group on the Belarusian Constitution will finish accepting the amendments within six months. This was announced to Izvestia in the parliament of the republic following the results of the second day of the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly (VNS). From July to December, substantive work will be carried out with the amendments introduced, and before the New Year, the country’s CEC plans to hold a referendum in order to combine it with the elections of local deputies. Experts interviewed by Izvestia believe that it is no coincidence that Alexander Lukashenko intends to give the VNS constitutional status – it is this body that can later help him to extend his presidential term. However, the parliament emphasizes that this issue was not touched upon within the framework of the SNC and the tasks of the constitutional group.

Second day

On the second day of the VNS Alexander Lukashenko also addressed the audience, the speech of the head of state lasted over three hours. At the suggestion of Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei, the Belarusian leader proposed to consider the possibility of removing the norm on the neutrality of the republic from the Constitution.

– There is no neutrality and, to be honest, we did not pursue a course that would be rigidly connected with neutrality, thereby, possibly violating the constitution. Therefore, apparently, we need to discuss this issue with experts and set out these requirements in a different way, – the President noted.

He also assured that in the country “there were and are not any political prisoners.” The president made such a statement in response to the speech of ex-presidential candidate Anna Kanopatskaya. The day before, in her speech before the National People’s Commissariat, she declared the need to amnesty political prisoners before starting to amend the Constitution.

All-Belarusian People's Assembly

Photo: president.gov.by

– The authorities and their supporters understand that the Belarusian society is split, and it is necessary to look for ways to consolidate. The willingness to make constitutional changes is a confirmation of this. However, it is obvious that this process is long and complicated. The consequences of the confrontation are too grave, ”Anna Kanopatskaya said in an interview with Izvestia.

Speaking about the referendum on the constitution, the president proposed to combine it with the local elections of deputies of the 29th convocation in Belarus, which should take place before January 18, 2022. According to the head of state, this will be “a certain cost savings.” The CEC of the republic supported this proposal, according to the head of the department Lidia Yermoshina, both votes are planned to be held in December 2021.

The working group on amendments to the Constitution should complete its work within the next six months, said Andrei Savinykh, chairman of the international commission of the House of Representatives of Belarus, to Izvestia. Further, from July to December, discussion and finalization of proposals will follow.

There are doubts

On the first day of the ANC, Alexander Lukashenko named the conditions for his departure from power, including “peace and order” in the country, as well as the safety of his supporters. However, experts believe that with the help of the current amendments, the head of the republic can extend his current term, which began in October 2020. If a referendum on changing the constitution is held in December 2021, then the leader of Belarus can initiate the countdown of his presidential term from 2022. And to remain in the chair of the country’s leader for another five years. This has already happened after the constitutional referendum in 1996, political scientist Vladimir Evseev reminded Izvestia.

The expert also admits that this issue can be passed through the SNC – following the results of the referendum, the assembly will probably be given a legislative initiative. However, the parliamentarian Andrei Savinykh assured Izvestia that this issue was not touched upon within the framework of the SNC and the tasks of the constitutional group.

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko speaks at the 6th All-Belarusian People's Assembly at the Palace of the Republic in Minsk

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko speaks at the 6th All-Belarusian People’s Assembly at the Palace of the Republic in Minsk

Photo: president.gov.by

– Each article (constitution) is planned to be discussed openly with citizens through dialogue platforms and parliament. Will the article contain anything about resetting the deadlines – no. Below the Constitution, such issues are resolved, – said the deputy to Izvestia.

Belarusian political scientist Yevgeny Preigerman believes that Alexander Lukashenko is reacting situationally and it is not yet known whether he will extend his current term. This depends, among other things, on the further development or extinction of protest moods in society, the expert explained to Izvestia.

“Gathering” vs Meeting

“There were no discussions, discussions and disputes at the congress of this group. All these people were used for was raising their hands at those moments where they would say to imitate the legitimization of some statements or statements of citizen Lukashenko, “- in an interview with Izvestia, the results of the VNS were assessed by ex-presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who herself did not participate in the meeting.

At the same time, she emphasized that the new government, as well as the transitional one, “will consider all the developments of the independent civil initiative” Gathering “and will certainly take them into account when making decisions.” The platform claims that there are no political forces behind it.

Representative of the People’s Anti-Crisis Administration Pavel Latushko told Izvestia that he considers the new constitution “just Lukashenka’s desire to play for time”.

All-Belarusian People's Assembly

Photo: president.gov.by

– In 2020, we heard that the new constitution will be in 2021, now we hear that it will be in 2022. And what changes can there be to the constitution if no one observes the old one? Only Lukashenka’s departure and new elections are able to resolve the political crisis in the country, and only then there is a sense to work on a new draft constitution, he said.

According to Evgeny Preigerman, the VNS still influences the situation in the country, no matter how the opposition denies it.

– After the onset of the political crisis, uncertainty arose, people in important positions were disoriented. Therefore, the ANS is important: it interrupts uncertainty, even if key decisions are not made on it, ”the political scientist noted.

Dream or truth

Aleksey Yanukevich, the leader of the largest opposition party, the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF), is skeptical about the results of the UPF. In his opinion, the constitution is unlikely to change much in 2022. Since the current state of affairs satisfies the authorities and those who support them. In addition, there are questions about the referendum itself – whether there will be public confidence in it, the politician doubted.

Deputy of the Minsk City Assembly Olga Tesakova was the only member of the VNS who voted against the adoption of the final resolution and appeal. Despite the fact that she raised her hand, her vote was not counted and it was announced that the resolution was supported “unanimously”.

All-Belarusian People's Assembly

Photo: president.gov.by

– It seems like a member of the counting commission saw and promised to include it in the protocol, we’ll see. At least my neighbors saw it for sure, ”the deputy told Izvestia.

Speaking about the realistic plans for the five-year plan, the deputy said: “I dream of living in such a country if it were true.” However, the very format of the SPS and its preparation “do not come close to contributing to the reconciliation” of the Belarusian society, the politician stated.

On the eve, representatives of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front and the Liberal Democratic Party told Izvestia that all political forces in the country had an opportunity to speak out within the framework of the APC. The All-Belarusian People’s Assembly was held in Minsk from 11 to 12 February. More than 2.7 thousand delegates took part in it, including 300 foreign guests.