Updated at 19:33,24-11-2017

Draft law introduces new grounds for banning cultural activities

Artsiom Martynovich, Euroradio

The House of Representatives has already passed the draft Code of Belarus on Culture in the first reading. What changes will await us if the bill draft passes in the second reading and is eventually signed into law?

1) Ban on cultural activities for defamation of the president or a public official

Under the new Code on Culture, cultural activities can be suspended if they"aim against the sovereignty of the Republic of Belarus, calls on the forceful seizure of state power or the change of the Constitutional order," also when cultural activities contain the following:

- dissemination of statements that degrade the honor and dignity of the President of the Republic of Belarus, the heads of state agencies, the status of which is defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus;

- there is a threat to national security, public order;

- propaganda of war, extremism, violence and brutality, and social, religious, racial superiority, intolerance or hostility, pornography, calls to commit crimes;

- there is a threat to health and morality of a human being, the rights and freedoms of citizens.

2) Unregistered symbols will be banned during concerts

A concert can be stopped, if visitors use unregistered symbols.

When attending a cultural and entertainment event, citizens are prohibited:

"To conduct propaganda of war or extremist activities, also using posters, banners or other means;

to create a threat to public safety, life and health of citizens;
to use flags, banners that were not registered, as well as emblems, symbols, posters and banners, the content of which aim to make harm to public order, the rights and legitimate interests of citizens;

to be under influence of alcohol or in a condition caused by the usage of narcotic, psychotropic, toxic substances and analogues thereof."

Concerts and cultural events will take place - like currently - after receiving certficates (permits). the certificate may be refused, if a board of experts will spot the features of extremism, pornography or propaganda.

3) Metal detector only with permission from Academy of Sciences.

The new Code prohibits the use of metal detectors if it is not supported by a certificate from the Academy of Sciences:

"The use of metal detectors, geo-radars and other technical means and tools for searching archeological objects and (or) archeological artefacts is possibke exclusively on the basis of a permit (an opoen letter) to citizens stipulated in Article 126 (5) in this Code (here it talks about the permit from the Academy of Sciences - Euroradio)".

4) Commission under president will decide if art crafts belong to folklore.

"A board of experts will be created by the Offce of the President at the state crafts association to decide whether crafts can be qualified as folklore arts," explains the Code draft.

The Code on Culture draft was passed by the House of Representatives in the first reading only. The second reading is scheduled for the next session in spring.