Updated at 19:56,22-01-2021

KGB gains ultimate power?

Nasha Niva

The House of Representatives of the Belarusian Parliament approved the second, final reading of a bill of amendments that would give more powers to the Committee for State Security (KGB) and, in particular, allow KGB officers to break into people’s homes without a warrant.

"The bill would not give the KGB personnel some new rights; it only specifies and spells out their current powers", the Chief of the KGB General Vadzim Zajcau said.

However, he acknowledged that the article governing the use of weapons, special means and physical force would be seriously amended.

Under the bill, submitted to the House in mid-October 2011, KGB officers would have the right to "freely" break at any time of day or night into people’s homes and other premises, excluding the premises of foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations enjoying diplomatic immunity, as well as the residence of their personnel, while "pursuing a suspected criminal or having sufficient grounds for assuming that a crime has been or is being committed or a person is hiding from criminal justice authorities on the premises".

The bill would allow KGB officers to use "physical force, including martial arts and impromptu means", while preventing a crime or arresting a suspect.

KGB officers would not bear any responsibility for any harm done as a result of the use of physical force, special means, and combat and special equipment if they acted in "justified professional risk" situations or under the conditions of extreme necessity.

KGB officers also would not bear any responsibility for any harm they could do while acting "under orders issued in accordance with the established procedure unless they have committed a crime under a knowingly criminal order".

KGB officers would be allowed to use handcuffs, rubber sticks, special chemicals, sound and light distraction devices, devices used for stopping cars and other special means, including dogs, to crack down on mass disturbances, other violations of public order committed by a group and actions aimed at destroying or damaging property.

The bill reads that if a person die or be injured as a result of the use of force, special means, and combat and special equipment or the use of weapons, the KGB must "immediately notify" a prosecutor of the incident.

The legislation was met with severe criticism from Belarusian human rights defenders and the international community.

In a statement issued in early November, the Constitutional Court of Belarus claimed that it had found that the controversial bill was in full conformity with the constitution. The Constitutional Court said that it had examined the bill as part of "mandatory preliminary supervision".