Belarusian Party of Communists comes under threat of closure

The politician noted that the move may be another attempt on the part of the authorities to outlaw the party...

The Belarusian Party of Communists (BPC) has come under the threat of closure after the justice ministry cancelled the registration of all of the opposition organization's cells in Minsk, a move that is likely to raise much controversy.

In a letter sent to the BPC, the ministry explained that the party's Minsk city chapters and cells in the Belarusian capital's nine districts had no legal addresses at the time of their registration in March 1999, which it said is in violation of the Political Parties Law enacted in 2005, Valery Ukhnalyov, secretary of the BPC Central Committee, told BelaPAN.

Mr. Ukhnalyov condemned the move as unlawful. "One need not be an experienced legal expert to understand that the 2005 law cannot be applied to the situation in 1999," he stressed.

The politician noted that the move may be another attempt on the part of the authorities to outlaw the party. "If a party has no registered cells in Minsk, this allows [the authorities] to order its liquidation. Our party has been examined by the justice ministry. The latter has realized that we have the required minimum of 1,000 members and the so-called "merger" convention of the BPC and the Communist Party of Belarus has no legal grounds. Then they have decided to adopt the line of least resistance by simply shutting down our cells in Minsk illegally," Mr. Ukhnalyov said.

All BPC cells in Minsk were moved from residential to office buildings earlier this year in compliance with the Political Parties Law.

According to the BPC secretary, the party's lawyers are currently preparing an appeal against the decision. "If the decision is not annulled, we will complain to court," he promised.