Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 4

A statement issued yesterday by 135 deputies of the newly elected Belarusian parliament — fully one-half of its members — accused President Aleksandr Lukashenko and officials of his government of violating the Constitution’s provisions on the separation of powers. The statement specifically condemns presidential chief of staff Mikhail Myasnikovich’s December 31 warning to Constitutional Court chairman Valery Tsikhinya to step down or face dismissal by Lukashenko. Tsikhinya had informed parliamentary deputies of the threat. Signatories to the statement condemned unlawful pressures on the Court and warned the president and his entourage against starting a new round of confrontation with the other two branches of power. (16)

The deputies’ statement is the severest challenge yet to Lukashenko’s attempts to monopolize power in Belarus. Few deputies in the former parliament were inclined to resist Lukashenko, leaving chairman Mechislau Hryb to wage a lonely battle to defend parliamentary prerogatives. The Constitutional Court in recent months has upheld challenges by Hryb and his few allies to seven of Lukashenko’s decrees, declaring the decrees unconstitutional. The president ignored the rulings and threatened to dismiss the justices, as did his deputy prime minister Leonid Sinitsyn after the New Year. Lukashenko has also threatened to withhold funding from the new parliament.

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