Updated at 23:19,25-10-2016

KGB was officially allowed not to let oppositionists abroad

Alyaksandr Lukashenka on July 4 signed a presidential edict requiring the people on the "preventive register" of the Committee for State Security (KGB) to be added to the list of Belarusians "temporarily" banned from leaving the country.

Formerly, the KGB was entitled to enter in the list only those who knew state secrets. All other entries were made by the interior, justice and defense ministries.

As KGB spokesman Alyaksandr Antanovich told BelaPAN, under Articles 28 and 29 of the 2008 Law on the Principles of Activities to Prevent Offenses, people may be placed on the KGB’s preventive register on the grounds that they "may create a threat to the national security of the Republic of Belarus, cause damage to state or public interests, rights, liberties and legitimate interests of other people, or may lead to committing a crime afterwards".

Speaking to reporters on March 1, a few days after the EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on more citizens of Belarus, Pavel Radzivonaw, a departmental head at the Prosecutor General’s Office, said that persons calling on foreign states and international organizations to impose economic and other sanctions against Belarus might be subjected to a temporary ban on foreign travel and even to criminal prosecution.

A large number of people, including opposition politicians, journalists and human rights defenders, have been barred from traveling abroad since then. Many of them were given ridiculous explanations. For instance, Maryna Kavalewskaya, a lawyer for former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikaw who, as a woman, may not be called up for military service, was told that she was banned from foreign travel because she "evaded events connected with conscription for military service."

In an interview with a Russian TV channel in late March, Alyaksandr Lukashenka revealed that some opposition figures were under a travel ban because they instigated the West to use sanctions against Belarus. The Belarusian leader said that bans on foreign travel would soon be used "at full capacity".