Another Strike of Belarusian Government Against Civil Society

30 June 2004

On 30 June the Belarusian Chamber of Representatives approved amendments to the law on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

The bill enables the closure of NGOs for violating laws regarding the use of foreign aid and street demonstrations. The bill also allows courts to shut down NGOs for six months if they don't comply with the law. The bill authorizes the Justice Ministry to suspend NGOs' registration for one month if their documents are found to be flawed. Under the bill, NGOs should report annually about the organization's membership, structure, and activities.

On the same date, the Chamber of Representatives approved changes to the law on political parties. The bill forbids dual party membership and party membership for legal entities. Under the amended law, to be legal a party must have a Minsk city branch and regional branches in at least four of the country's six regions. According to the new law, branches should be established within six months of the party's registration. In addition, the bill bars political parties from receiving aid from foreign private individuals, foreign organizations, stateless or anonymous people, minors, and religious organizations.