Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Council of Belarusian National Congress holds first meeting

By Syarhey Karalevich, BelaPAN

The Council of the Belarusian National Congress held its first meeting in Minsk on May 28, almost two weeks after the body was founded by a number of politicians in an effort to unite the countrys fractured opposition.

The Council currently includes former presidential candidates Mikalay Statkevich and Uladzimir Nyaklyayew; trade union leader Henadz Fyadynich; Stanislaw Shushkevich, Belarus formal head of state between 1991 and 1994; Ales Makayew, a leader of the Razam opposition group; Zmitser Dashkevich, a co-chairman of the Malady Front opposition youth group; Vatslaw Areshka, a representative of the Belaruski Rukh movement; and Maksim Vinyarski, an activist of the European Belarus group, as well as seven representatives of regional coalitions of pro-democratic forces.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr. Statkevich said that more people would be included in the Council. Talks will continue with various opposition organizations, he said. He warned that opposition organizations advocating integration with Russia were unlikely to be invited to send their representatives to the Council.

A decision was made that the Council may include only representatives of the organizations that signed a pro-independence memorandum in November 2012 or a pro-independence declaration on the eve of the May 15 founding conference for the Belarusian National Congress.

The Council decided that it will meet once a month. A decision will be adopted if at least two thirds of the Councils members vote for it.

The Belarusian National Congress was founded for the declared purpose of uniting pro-democracy forces and creating a common list of candidates for this Septembers elections for the House of Representatives. The founding conference was held in Yanka Kupala Park in Minsk, after the organizers failed to find an indoor venue for the event. It was attended by more than a hundred people.