Lawyer of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s Office Kristina Rikhter commented on the amendments to Belarus’ Law on Citizenship:

“The adopted amendments to the Law on Citizenship are clearly targeting the Belarusian citizens forced to flee the country for fear of persecution. It may also affect those convicted under the so-called “extremist” articles who fled to other countries.

This is not the first attempt to deprive political opponents of citizenship. In August 2021, the regime adopted Decree No. 302, which amended Belarus’ Law on Citizenship. The Degree enabled it to deprive Belarusians of citizenship if they did not receive it by birth.

The new draft law stipulates that a citizen of Belarus, including if they acquired citizenship by birth, may be deprived of it if a court sentence came into force confirming their involvement in extremist activities or causing serious harm to the interests of the Republic of Belarus — if the citizen resides abroad.

The regime defines “extremist activities” as any exercise of political rights and freedoms and designates initiatives aimed at the development of democracy in the country as “extremist.” Thus, it should come as no surprise that this law will be used to deprive emigre opponents of the regime of their citizenship and confiscate their property after “trials in absentia” confirm the needed sentences.

The bill that was passed today in both readings by the House of Representatives contradicts Article 10 of the Constitution, under which no one may be deprived of Belarusian citizenship or the right to change citizenship

It also contradicts the international commitments of the Republic of Belarus, including without limitation paragraph 2 of Article 15 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Moreover, the Constitutional Court of Belarus has reaffirmed the commitment to protect the right to citizenship obtained by birth as it assessed the previous amendments to the Law on Citizenship.

International standards in the field have been established by the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which Belarus has not signed. This Convention provides for deprivation of nationality in certain cases. However, the countries that practice deprivation of citizenship based on the citizen’s extremist or terrorist activities look closely at whether the person acquired citizenship at birth, and whether they have another citizenship so that they do not become stateless.

Thus, the amendments and additions to the Law on Citizenship of Belarus in fact pursue the only goal of illegally depriving Belarusians of citizenship on political grounds if the totally blind Belarusian “Lady Justice” can’t reach them. 

Source: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya