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The Riigikogu expresses concern over the situation in Belarus. On the eve of the presidential elections scheduled for 19 March 2006 the president Lukashenka regime has led to further restrictions of democratic rights:

– free press no longer exists;

– several political leaders have been imprisoned;

– parties and non-governmental organisations are being subject to ungrounded restrictions;

– street protesting and expression of political views opposing those of the authorities are being subject to criminal prosecution;

– separation and balance of powers has been substituted by unlimited presidential power;

– the authorities enjoy total control over electoral committees;

– no progress has been made in investigating the disappearance of public figures in the period from 1999 to 2000.

Free elections imply equal opportunities for all. This principle has been repeatedly breached in Belarus where no necessary conditions have been created for free elections. The referendum held in October 2004 that has provided Aleksandr Lukashenka with the possibility of running for a third consecutive term was in violation of both democratic practices in general and Belarus legislation in particular. Hence, the increased significance attached to the decision on behalf of the opposition to take part in the elections and to put forward a common candidate.

The Riigikogu supports the European Parliament resolution on Belarus adopted on 29 September 2005, the resolution 1482 on the situation on the eve of the presidential elections in Belarus adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 26 January 2006, the resolution 1371 on disappeared persons in Belarus and the resolution 1372 on the persecution of press in Belarus adopted by the latter organisation on 28 April 2004.

The Riigikogu stands for democracy, human rights and free elections in Belarus.

The Riigikogu stands for equal opportunities for candidates in the elections.

The Riigikogu stands for the return of Belarus amongst the free nations of Europe.

The Riigikogu calls upon the European Union, the Council of Europe and individual member states to implement projects aimed at supporting democracy in Belarus.

The Riigikogu deems it necessary to improve assistance to Belarus on the way to democratisation, in developing a civil society and ensuring the freedom of press.

President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma

Tallinn 2006

Draft submitted by members of the Riigikogu on 15.02.2006