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Belarus bans most citizens from going abroad






Belarus has temporarily banned most of its citizens from leaving, including many foreign residency permit holders.


There are some exceptions, such as for Belarusian civil servants on official trips and state transport staff.

The State Border Committee's tightening of the rules follows international outrage over Belarus's recent diversion of a Ryanair flight and arrest of a top dissident and his girlfriend on board.


Many dissidents have left Belarus since a disputed election last year.


In its statement on the Telegram messaging service, the border committee says it has received "many requests to leave Belarus on the strength of residence permits [issued] by foreign countries".


Only those with permanent residence in foreign countries - not temporary - are allowed to leave Belarus now, it says. The border committee blamed the measures on the coronavirus pandemic.


President Alexander Lukashenko's harsh crackdown on opponents since his disputed 9 August election victory has sent many into exile or to jail.


His main rival, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who insists that she won, moved to neighbouring Lithuania with her team. Poland also hosts many Belarusians.

Her foreign affairs adviser, Valery Kovalevsky, posted an angry tweet, saying President Lukashenko had "severely limited the right of Belarusians to travel, asserting that certain grounds (residency abroad) aren't sufficient to leave Belarus".


"Yet the Constitution stipulates no conditions at all. Outright violation of the law," he said.

Belarus was gripped by huge anti-Lukashenko demonstrations last year after the election, broken up brutally by the police.

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