Belarussian officials need to ask President Lukashenko's permission, if they can travel abroad

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a degree regulating business trips to other countries for state officials of Belarus. According to the new decree, Belarussian officials can leave abroad only at President Lukashenko's personal consent. In addition, a business trip to another state is not supposed to last longer than two days. "A longer period for a trip abroad can be determined individually, taking into consideration the actual need for it and the need to economize the funds of the state," a statement from the press service of the Belarussian president said.

"It is another step to establish the personal control over the country and intensify the isolation of the state, - Belarussian sociologist Oleg Manayev said. - The president is restricting people's contacts with the outer environment, which he cannot control. A new category of people has appeared in Belarus over the recent year. These people - students and Chernobyl children - now experience traveling impediments, if they want to leave Belarus and visit another country. State officials have joined them now too," the specialist said.

In 2004 Alexander Lukashenko ordered not to let Belarussian children study abroad. In president's opinion, children return to Belarus with consumer's outlook, the Vremya Novostei newspaper wrote.

"Lukashenko is gradually and deliberately leading Belarus to the past. The government of the USSR used to control every trip to another state. This type of politics gives an opportunity to minimize the risk of the regime destruction," Anatoly Lebedko, the leader of the Belarussian United Civil Party believes. "The system, which Lukashenko created, loses in comparison with the European regime. When people live in a closed state, they think that the Belarussian state structure is the best system that has ever been made in the whole world. However, when people have a possibility to see life in other countries, they may turn from Lukashenko's followers to Lukashenko's adversaries. The decision, which regulates trips to foreign countries for state officials, testifies to the government's shaking position on the threshold of the presidential election in 2006," Lebedko said.

It is noteworthy that Alexander Lukashenko does not travel much himself. He probably does not like it, when others visit Washington or Tokyo, for example, too often.

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