Belarus has published a list with members of the commission to work with “those who want to return to their homeland” – it will consider the appeals of Belarusians abroad who have committed offenses and wish to return to the country.
The commission will be chaired by Prosecutor General of Belarus Andrei Shved, and his deputies will be Valery Gaidukevich and Aleksey Stuk, who hold the posts of Deputy Chairman of the Permanent Commission of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly on International Affairs and National Security and Deputy Prosecutor General, respectively.
In addition, among the members of the commission are:
- Propagandist Grigory Azarenok;
- Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik;
- Head of the IC Dmitry Gora;
- Interior Minister Ivan Kubrakov;
- Chairman of the State Border Committee Anatoly Lappo;
- Head of the KGB Ivan Tertel;
- Ivan Eismont, chairman of the National State Television and Radio Company and husband of Lukashenka’s press secretary;
- Entrepreneur and former political prisoner, and now sympathetic to the authorities Yuri Voskresensky;
- Rector of the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts and ex-Deputy Minister of Culture Natalya Karchevskaya;
- Deputy Marina Lenchevskaya;
- Propagandist Marat Markov, who was “interviewed” by former Nexta editor Roman Protasevich after his arrest;
- Director of the Financial Investigation Department of the State Audit Office Igor Marshalov;
- Chairman of the public association “Belarusian Women’s Union” Olga Shpilevskaya.
According to the decree, Belarusians who left who, from January 1, 2020, before the decree came into force, committed an administrative offense or “crimes related to significant socio-political events” and “fear of returning” can apply to the commission. They can send applications until December 31, 2023.
The commission needs to write about the reasons why the citizen left the country and about the circumstances in connection with which he can be brought to administrative or criminal liability.
At the same time, the decree says that those who applied must “repent of their deeds and inform the commission of their readiness to apologize publicly after returning,” “compensate for the harm caused,” and also “observe the Constitution,” “respect state symbols and national traditions.”
On February 6, Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree establishing the commission. He claims that “the authorities a priori are not going to deprive anyone of their freedom” and “everything will be according to the law.” “
In early January, Lukashenka said that thousands of people who had left Belarus were asking to come back. According to the human rights center “Viasna”, in Belarus in 2022 and early 2023, at least 58 people were detained who returned to their homeland from abroad. Of these, at least 10 people were sentenced to imprisonment for a term of one to five years in a colony, four people – to “home chemistry” (restriction of freedom without being sent to a correctional institution). Criminal cases have been opened against seven more people.
Most often, Belarusians are detained after returning from Poland or Lithuania. Returning Belarusians are detained for comments on social networks, participation in the 2020 protests in Belarus and solidarity actions abroad.
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