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Kremlin Advisers Scold Belarus For Human Rights Record

In an open letter to Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka published on 23 June at sovetpanfilova.ru, the Council for Promoting Civil Society and Human Rights (SSRIGOPCh) under Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed its concern about "the unfavorable situation with civic rights and freedoms" in Belarus. The council, which is an advisory body whose head is appointed by Putin, said that Belarus has virtually no independent "sociopolitical media," nongovernmental and human rights organizations are being gradually liquidated by the administration, and electoral legislation does not ensure " legitimate results of the expression of the people's will." The council also pointed to "overtly unfriendly steps" that are being taken by the Belarusian government against Russia, including squeezing Russian electronic media from Belarus's information sphere and censuring their programs, confiscating Russian commodities at Belarusian border checkpoints, and infringing on the rights of Russians who are in conflict with the Belarusian legal system. "The council is very influential but it does not reflect the state policy [stance]," SSRIGOPCh member Sergei Markov told RFE/RL's Belarus Service.

(RFE/RL 24.vi.05)

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