Gazeta Wyborcza: "Lukashenka wants to eliminate oases of free speech"
"Lukashenka wants to isolate Belarus still further. Now the Belarusian regime will control any foreign help. Youth exchange programs, conferences and seminars are now under scrutiny." This is the conclusion made by Gazeta Wyborcza as it analyzes the latest decree issued by Aliaxandr Lukashenka "On International Technical Assistance from Abroad", reported Radio Liberty.
The newspaper underscores that Lukashenka has been struggling with the foreign assistance provided to the political opposition and public associations for long. This decree simply tightens the restrictions introduced before the presidential elections four years ago.
Over the past years the Belarusian authorities have increasingly refused to allow organizations to receive help from abroad or impose such high taxes that render this help very costly. "That's why no one transfers money to Belarus legally", says Iakub Baratynski, the director of the international cooperation program of the Stephen Bathory Fund in Poland. And then he adds: "The one who officially asks the Belarusian authorities to grant permission voluntarily turn themselves into targets for Lukashenka's administration".
The newspaper emphasizes that the new decree first focuses on different conferences and seminars, especially those that concern democracy and human rights and that, as a rule, used to be financed by foreign foundations. These events were especially important for Belarusians, because there they could hear the words of support from the foreign colleagues". Gazeta Wyborcza writes that now Lukashenka wants to destroy these remaining oases of free speech to make sure that no one voices any protest when in 2006 he will be again falsifying the elections.