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Chairwoman of Belarusian Association of Journalists removed from list of individuals “temporarily” banned from leaving Belarus
Zhanna Litvina, chairwoman of the Belarusian Association Journalists (BAJ), has been notified by the Belarusian interior ministry’s Citizenship and Migration Department that she has been removed from the list of Belarusians “temporarily” banned from leaving the country.
Mikhail Hryb, deputy head of the Department, says in his letter to Ms. Litvina that she was mistakenly entered in the list of individuals banned from foreign travel because of a “technical failure” that disrupted the transfer of electronic data between governmental agencies in the period between February 24 and March 10, 2012.
Mr. Hryb says that the Department offers its apology for the “misunderstanding.”
On March 15, border officers at Minsk National Airport did not allow Ms. Litvina to take a plane, explaining that she was on the list of individuals under a foreign travel ban. She got her passport back with “Exit Denied” stamped on it.
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, were barred from traveling abroad after that. 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.”
Apart from Ms. Litvina, BAJ members banned from traveling abroad included Mikhail Yanchuk, Valyantsin Stefanovich, Alyaksandr Atroshchankaw and Andrey Dynko. // BelaPAN