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Belarus renounces non-nuclear state status

Change comes after the approval of the referendum on the new Belarusian Constitution.

This Sunday, Belarus approved, in a referendum, a new constitution that abandons the country’s non-nuclear status, at a time when the former Soviet republic has become a launching pad for Russian troops to invade Ukraine, say Russian news agencies.

BELARUS, NUCLEAR POWER?

The agencies cite Belarus’s central electoral commission and say 65.2% of voters voted in favor of the constitutional amendment, which now sees the country abandon non-nuclear status.

The positive outcome for the regime is not a surprise, given the rigid and controlled government model of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The new constitution thus allows for the existence of nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil for the first time since the country abandoned them after the fall of the Soviet Union, and at a time when Minsk plays an intermediary role between Russia and Ukraine.

On Sunday, Lukashenko said he could ask Russia to return nuclear weapons to Belarus.

“If (the West) transfers nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania, on our borders, then I will turn to [Vladimir] Putin to return the nuclear weapons I gave without any conditions,” he said.

Currently, only nine countries have nuclear nation status: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.

STRENGTHENING THE PRESIDENTIAL STATUTES

The legal document also strengthens the powers of the Belarusian People’s Assembly, created by Lukashenko and occupied by members loyal to the regime.

The President’s lifetime procedural immunity, after leaving office, is also provided for by law with the recent electoral act.

INTERNAL AND EUROPEAN OPPOSITION

The West says it will not recognize the results of the referendum, as it takes place in a context of widespread government repression – according to human rights activists, there are more than 1,000 political prisoners in Belarus. The referendum sparked anti-war protests in several cities and at least 290 more people were detained, they add.

Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who finds herself in exile after the 2020 Belarusian presidential election – which many accuse of fraudulent, urged Belarusians to use the vote to protest the Russian-Ukrainian invasion.

Source: With Agencies

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