Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

It was unlawful to request additional papers to decide on registration application

It was unlawful of the justice ministry to order the Belarusian Party of Working People (BPWP) to submit additional papers for a decision on its registration application to be made, Alyaksandr Bukhvostaw, a leader of the BPWP founding committee, told BelaPAN.

The decision was postponed because of the founding committee's failure to provide requested documents, the ministry explained in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday.

In particular, the founding committee refused to submit the minutes of the nomination meetings for the BPWP founding conference and its own meetings.

"Only an extract of the founding committee's minutes was submitted, as regulations did not require us to submit the full document," Mr. Bukhvostaw explained. "As for the minutes of the nomination meetings, they were examined by the mandate commission and did not have to be seen by anyone else. Moreover, the justice ministry ignored our invitation to send its representative to the founding conference."

"We realized full well what it would take to obtain registration for a political party in our country," he said. "We knew that the justice ministry would request additional documents, and that people mentioned in them would come under pressure and become the target of dirty television reports. That’s why we provided only what was required by regulations."

According to Mr. Bukhvostaw, BPWP activists phone him to complain about pressure from their employers, who they say threaten to dismiss them from work unless they deny having signed the party's founding documents. "There have been such cases in Homyel, Vitsyebsk and Minsk," he said. "This means that the justice ministry has begun its work."

The justice ministry has directed that the documents in question be submitted by September 21 and the BPWP founding committee will soon decide whether or not to do this, Mr. Bukhvostaw said. "In any event, we’ll produce all the papers in court," he said. "In my opinion, it doesn't make sense to be submissive to a governmental agency that openly stifles Belarus' political system instead of helping develop and strengthen it."

The BPWP founding committee filed a registration application with the justice ministry on August 24.

Sixty-five delegates reportedly attended the party’s founding conference, which was held in Minsk on July 26. They adopted the party's program and charter.

Alyaksandr Bukhvostaw, a prominent trade union leader, was elected chairman of the party and Mikalay Pakhabaw and Andrey Yewdakimovich were elected deputy chairmen.

The delegates adopted a statement calling on the government to stop "plugging holes in the economy at the expense of workers amid the global financial crisis," abolish the system of short-term employment contracts and respect freedom of association and other democratic freedoms.

The Belarusian Party of Working People is viewed as the successor to the Belarusian Party of Labor, which was closed in 2004.
"The founding committee for the new party was established as far back as 2005," Mr. Bukhvostaw said at the founding conference. "We were not ready to hold the founding conference for a long time because of various reasons. But the situation changed with the arrival of new young activists, who want to be members of an officially registered organization."

The Belarusian Party of Labor was founded in 1993 and led by Mr. Bukhvostaw for most of its existence. It was closed in August 2004 for allegedly providing false information about its membership and failing to obtain a valid legal address and abide by its own charter.