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We, the People of the Republic of Belarus, (of Belarus), proceeding from the assumption of responsibility for the present and future of Belarus, recognizing ourselves as a full-fledged subject of the international community and conforming our adherence to values common to all mankind, founding ourselves on our inalienable right to self-determination, supported by the centuries-long history of development of Belarusian state-hood, striving to assert the rights and freedoms of every citizen of the Republic of Belarus, desiring to maintain civic concord, stable foundations of government by the people and a state based on the rule of law, hereby adopt and enact this Constitution as the Fundamental Law of the Republic of Belarus.
Section 1. Principles of the Constitutional System
Article 1. The Republic of Belarus is a unitary, democratic, social state based on the rule of law.
Article 2. The individual, his rights, freedoms and guarantees for their attainment manifest the supreme goal and value of society and the State.
Article 3. The people shall be the sole source of state power and the repository of sovereignty in the Republic of Belarus. The people shall exercise their power directly through representative and other bodies in the forms and within the bounds specified by the Constitution.
Article 4. Democracy in the Republic of Belarus shall be exercised on the basis of diversity of political institutions, ideologies and views.
Article 5. Political parties and other public associations acting within the framework of the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Belarus, shall contribute towards ascertaining and expressing the political will of the citizens and participate in elections.
Article 6. State power in the Republic of Belarus is exercised on the principle of division of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary. State bodies within the confines of their powers, shall be independent: they shall co-operate among themselves acting on the principle of checks and balances.
Article 7. The Republic of Belarus shall be bound by the principle of supremacy of law.
Article 8. The Republic of Belarus shall recognize the supremacy of the universally acknowledged principles of international law and ensure that its laws comply with such principles.
Article 9. The territory of the Republic of Belarus shall be the natural condition of the existence and spatial limit of the people's self-determination, and the basis for its prosperity and the sovereignty of the Republic of Belarus.
Article 10. A citizen of the Republic of Belarus shall be guaranteed the protection and patronage of the State both on the territory of Belarus and beyond.
Article 11. Foreign nationals and stateless persons on the territory of Belarus shall enjoy rights and liberties and execute duties on equal terms with the citizens of the Republic of Belarus, unless otherwise specified in the Constitution, the laws and international treaties.
Article 12. The Republic of Belarus may grant the right of asylum to persons persecuted in other states for political or religious beliefs or their ethnic affiliation.
Article 13. Property may be the ownership of the state or private.
Article 14. The State shall regulate relations among social, ethnic and other communities on the basis of the principles of equality before the law and respect of their rights and interests.
Article 15. The State shall bear responsibility for preserving the historic, cultural and spiritual heritage, and the free development of the cultures of all the ethnic communities that live in the Republic of Belarus.
Article 16. Religions and faiths shall be equal before the law.
Article 17. The Belarusian and Russian languages shall be the official languages of the Republic of Belarus
Article 18. In its foreign policy the Republic of Belarus shall proceed from the principles of the equality of states, the non-use offeree or the threat offeree, the inviolability of frontiers, the peaceful settlement of disputes, non-interference in internal affairs of states and other universally acknowledged principles and standards of international law.
Article 19. The symbols of the Republic of Belarus as a sovereign state shall be its national flag, national emblem and national anthem.
Article 20. The capital of the Republic of Belarus is the city of Minsk. The status of the city of Minsk shall be determined by the law.
Section 2. The Individual, Society and the State
Article 21. Safeguarding the rights and liberties of the citizens of the Republic of Belarus shall be the supreme goal of the State.
Article 22. All shall be equal before the law and entitled without discrimination to equal protection of their rights and legitimate interests.
Article 23. Restriction of personal rights and liberties shall be permitted only in the instances specified in law, in the interest of national security, public order, the protection of the morals and health of the population as well as rights and liberties of other persons. No one may enjoy advantages and privileges that are contrary to the law.
Article 24. Every person shall have the right to life.
Article 25. The State shall safeguard personal liberty, inviolability and dignity. The restriction or denial of personal liberty is possible in the instances and under the procedure specified in law.
Article 26. No one may be found guilty of a crime unless his guilt is proven under the procedure specified in law and established by the verdict of a court of law that has acquired legal force. A defendant shall not be required to prove one's innocence.
Article 27. No person shall be compelled to be a witness against oneself, members of one's family or next of kin. Evidence obtained in violation of the law shall have no legal force.
Article 28. Everyone shall be entitled to protection against unlawful interference with one's private life, including encroachments on the privacy of one's correspondence and telephone and other communications, and on one's honour and dignity.
Article 29. The right of the people to be secure in their houses and other legitimate effects shall be guaranteed. No person shall have the right, save in due course of law to enter the premises or other legal property of a citizen against one's will.
Article 30. Citizens of the Republic of Belarus shall have the right to move freely and choose their place of residence within the Republic of Belarus, to leave it and to return to it without hindrance.
Article 31. Everyone shall have the right independently to determine one's attitude towards religion, to profess any religion individually or jointly with others, or to profess none at all, to express and spread beliefs connected with one's attitude towards religion, and to participate in the performance of acts of worship and religious rituals and rites, which are not prohibited by the law.
Article 32. Marriage, the family, motherhood, fatherhood, and childhood shall be under the protection of the State.
Article 33. Everyone is guaranteed freedom of thoughts and beliefs and their free expression.
Article 34. Citizens of the Republic of Belarus shall be guaranteed the right to receive, store and disseminate complete, reliable and timely information of the activities of state bodies and public associations, on political, economic, cultural and international life, and on the state of the environment.
Article 35. The freedom to hold assemblies, rallies, street marches, demonstrations and pickets that do not disturb law and order or violate the rights of other citizens of the Republic of Belarus, shall be guaranteed by the State. The procedure for conducting the above events shall be determined by the law.
Article 36. Everyone shall be entitled to freedom of association.
Article 37. Citizens of the Republic of Belarus shall have the right to participate in the solution of state matters, both directly and through freely elected representatives.
Article 38. Citizens of the Republic of Belarus shall have the right to vote freely and to be elected to state bodies on the basis of universal, equal, direct or indirect suffrage by secret ballot.
Article 39. Citizens of the Republic of Belarus, in accordance with their capabilities and vocational training, shall be entitled to equal access to any post in state bodies.
Article 40. Everyone shall have the right to address personal or collective appeals to state bodies.
Article 41. Citizens of the Republic of Belarus shall be guaranteed the right to work as the worthiest means of an individual's self-assertion, that is, the right to choose of one's profession, type of occupation and work in accordance with one's vocation, capabilities, education and vocational training, and having regard to social needs, and the right to healthy and safe working conditions.
Article 42. Employees shall be guaranteed adjust share of remuneration for the economic results of their labour in accordance with the quantity, quality and social significance of such work, but it shall not be less than the level which shall ensure them and their families a life of independence and dignity.
Article 43. Working people shall be entitled to holidays. For employees, this right shall be safeguarded by the establishment of a working week of no more than 40 hours, shorter working hours at night and the provision of an annual paid leave and weekly rest days.
Article 44. The State shall guarantee everyone the right of property and shall contribute to its acquisition.
Article 46. Everyone shall be entitled to a conducive environment and to compensation for loss or damage caused by the violation of this right.
Article 47. Citizens of the Republic of Belarus shall be guaranteed the right to social security in old age, in the event of illness, disability, loss of fitness for work and loss of a bread-winner and in other instances specified in law.
Article 48. Citizens of the Republic of Belarus shall be entitled to housing. This right shall be safeguarded by the development of state, and private housing and assistance for citizens in the acquisition of housing.
Article 49. Everyone shall have the right to education. Accessible and free general, secondary and vocation-technical education shall be guaranteed.
Article 50. Everyone shall have the right to preserve one's ethnic affiliation, and equally, no one may be compelled to define or indicate one's ethnic affiliation.
Article 51. Everyone shall have the right to take part in cultural life. This right shall be safeguarded by universal accessibility to the treasures of domestic and world culture that are held in state and public collections and by the development of a network of cultural and educational establishments.
Article 52. Everyone in the territory of the Republic of Belarus shall abide by its Constitution and laws and respect national traditions.
Article 53. Everyone shall respect the dignity, rights, liberties and legitimate interests of others.
Article 54. Everyone shall preserve the historical, cultural and spiritual heritage and other national treasures.
Article 55. It shall be the duty of everyone to protect the environment.
Article 56. Citizens of the Republic of Belarus shall contribute towards the funding of public expenditure through the payment of state taxes, dues and other payments.
Article 57. It shall be the responsibility and sacred duty of every citizen of the Republic of Belarus to defend the Republic of Belarus.
Article 58. No one shall be compelled to discharge duties that are not specified in the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and its laws or renounce his rights.
Article 59. The State shall take all measures at its disposal to create the domestic and international order necessary for the exercise in full of the rights and liberties of the citizens of the Republic of Belarus that are specified in the Constitution.
Article 60. Everyone shall be guaranteed protection of one's rights and liberties by a competent, independent and impartial court of law within time periods specified in law.
Article 61. Everyone shall have the right in accordance with the international instruments ratified by the Republic of Belarus to appeal to international organizations to defend their rights and liberties, provided all available interstate means of legal defence have been exhausted.
Article 62. Everyone shall have the right to legal assistance to exercise and defend his rights and liberties, including the right to make use, at any time, of the assistance of lawyers and one's other representatives in court, other state bodies, bodies of local government, enterprises, establishments, organizations and public associations, and also in relations with officials and citizens. In the instances specified in law, legal assistance shall be rendered from public funds.
Article 63. The exercise of the personal rights and liberties specified in this Constitution may be suspended only during a state of emergency or martial law under the procedure and within the limits specified in the Constitution and the law.
Section 3. Electoral System. Referendum
Article 64. The elections of deputies and other persons elected to state office by the people shall be universal: citizens of the Republic of Belarus who have reached the age of 18 shall be eligible to vote.
Article 65. Elections shall be free. A voter shall decide personally whether to take part in elections and for whom to vote. The preparation and conduct of elections shall be open and in public.
Article 66. Elections shall be held according to the principle of equal suffrage. Voters shall have equal number of votes.
Article 67. Elections of deputies shall be direct. Deputies shall be elected by citizens directly.
Article 68. Voting at elections shall be secret. The monitoring of voters' preferences while voting is in progress shall be prohibited.
Article 69. Public associations, work collectives and citizens shall have the right to nominate candidates for deputy in accordance with the law.
Article 70. Expenditure incurred in the preparation and conduct of elections shall be covered by the State within the limits of the funds assigned for that purpose. In instances determined by the law, the expenditure for the preparation and conduct of elections may be carried out at the expense of public associations, enterprises, offices, organizations and citizens.
Article 71. Elections shall be conducted by electoral commissions, unless otherwise specified in the Constitution.
Article 72. The recall of deputies shall be exercised to the order and instances as determined by the law.
Article 73. National and local referenda may be held to resolve the most important issues of the State and society.
Article 74. National referenda shall be called on the initiative of the President of the Republic of Belarus, as well as on the initiative of the Council of the Republic or House of Representatives, which is taken at their separate sittings by a majority of the full number of deputies of each house, or on the initiative of no fewer than 450,000 citizens eligible to vote, including no fewer than 30,000 citizens from each of the regions (oblasts) and city of Minsk.
Article 75. Local referenda shall be called by the relevant local representative bodies on their initiative or on the recommendation of no less than ten percent of the citizens who are eligible to vote and resident in the area concerned.
Article 76. Referenda shall be conducted by means of universal, free, equal and secret ballot. Citizens of the Republic of Belarus eligible to vote shall take part in referenda.
Article 77. The decisions adopted by referendum may be reversed or amended only by means of another referendum, unless otherwise specified by the referendum.
Article 78. The procedure governing the conduct of national and local referenda and a list of issues that may not be put to a referendum shall be determined by the law of the Republic of Belarus.
Section 4. The President, Parliament,Government, the Courts
Article 79. The President of the Republic of Belarus shall be the Head of State, the guarantor of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, the rights and liberties of man and citizen.
Article 80. Any citizen of the Republic of Belarus by birth at least 35 years of age who is eligible to vote and has been resident in the Republic of Belarus for at least ten years to the elections may be elected President.
Article 81. The President shall be elected directly by the people of the Republic of Belarus for a term of office of five years by universal, free, equal, direct and secret ballot.
Article 82. The elections shall be deemed to have taken place where over half the citizens of the Republic of Belarus on the electoral roll have taken part in the poll.
Article 83. The President shall assume office after taking the following Oath:
Article 84. The President of the Republic of Belarus shall:
Article 85. The President shall issue decrees and orders on the basis and in accordance with the Constitution which are mandatory in the territory of the Republic of Belarus.
Article 86. The President may not hold other offices or receive any monetary remuneration other than his salary, apart from royalties for works of science, literature and art.
Article 87. The President may tender his resignation at any time. The President's resignation shall be accepted by the House of Representatives.
Article 88. The President of the Republic of Belarus may be prematurely removed from office where he is persistently incapable to discharge his duties on account of the state of his health. The issue of removing the President shall be taken by a resolution of the House of Representatives adopted by a majority of no less than two-thirds of the elected deputies as determined by the Constitution and a majority of no less than two-thirds of the full composition as determined by the Constitution of the Council of the Republic on the basis of the findings of an ad hoc Commission formed by the Chambers of the Parliament.
Article 89. Whether the office of President falls vacant or the President is unable to discharge his duties to the order as determined by the Constitution, his power shall be transferred to the Prime Minister until the President-elect is sworn in.
Article 90. The Parliament - the National Assembly is a representative and legislative body of the Republic of Belarus.
Article 91. The House of Representatives shall consist of 110 deputies. The election of deputies to the House of Representatives shall be carried out in accordance with the law on the basis of universal, equal, free, direct electoral suffrage and by secret ballot.
Article 92. Any citizen of the Republic of Belarus who has reached the age of 21 may become a deputy of the House of Representatives.
Article 93. The term of the Parliament shall be four years. The powers of the Parliament may be extended by law only in the event of a war.
Article 94. The powers of the House of Representatives may be terminated prematurely where no confidence is expressed or a non-confidence vote is expressed to the Government, or where the House fails twice to give its consent for the appointment of the Prime Minister.
Article 95. The chambers shall hold their regular sessions twice a year. The first session shall open on 2 October; its duration may not exceed 80 days. The second session shall open on 2 April and its duration may not exceed 90 days.
Article 96. The House of Representatives shall elect from the ranks of the deputies the Chairperson of the House and the deputy.
Article 97. The House of Representatives shall:
Article 98. The Council of the Republic shall:
Article 99. The right of legislative initiative shall belong to the President, members of the House of Representatives, Council of the Republic, Government, as well as to citizens who are eligible to vote, in a number of no less than 50,000, and is implemented in the House of Representatives.
Article 100. Any bill, unless otherwise specified by the Constitution, shall be initially considered in the House of Representatives and then in the Council of the Republic.
Article 101. To the proposal of the President, the House of Representatives and the Council of the Republic may adopt a law supported by a majority of the full composition of both chambers, delegating to him legislative powers to issue decrees which have the power of a law. The latter shall determine the subject of the issue and the term of the powers of the President to issue such decrees.
Article 102. The deputies of the House of Representatives and members of the Council of the Republic shall enjoy immunity in the expression of their views and execution of their powers. This shall not refer to charges of slander and insult.
Article 103. Sittings of the chambers shall be open. The chambers in the instance of state interests, may take the decision to hold a closed session by majority of the full composition of the corresponding chamber. The President, his representatives, the Prime minister and members of the Government shall address the sessions out of turn as many times as they deem it necessary.
Article 104. Decisions of the House of Representatives shall be taken by laws or enactments. Enactments of the House of Representatives shall be taken with regard to issues of order and supervision.
Article 105. The procedure governing the activities of the House of Representatives, Council of the Republic, the bodies thereof and the deputies and members of the Council of the Republic shall be determined by the Rules of Procedure of the chambers, which shall be signed by the Chairpersons of the chambers.
Article 106. Executive power in the Republic of Belarus shall be exercised by the Government - the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus - the central body of state administration.
Article 107. The Government of the Republic of Belarus shall:
Article 108. The Government of the Republic of Belarus shall issue acts, that have binding force in the entire territory of the Republic of Belarus. The Prime minister shall issue orders which are under his jurisdiction. The competence of the Government and the procedure governing its activities shall be determined on the basis of the Constitution and the Law on the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus.
Article 109. The courts shall exercise judicial power in the Republic of Belarus. The judicial system shall be based upon the principles of territorial delineation and specialization.
Article 110. In administering justice judges shall be independent and subordinate to law alone.
Article 111. Judges may not engage in business activities or perform any paid work, apart from teaching and scientific research.
Article 112. The courts shall administer justice on the basis of the Constitution, the laws and other enforceable enactments adopted in accordance therewith.
Article 113. Cases before a court shall be tried collegially, and in the instances specified in law, by judges individually.
Article 114. The trial of cases in all courts shall be open. The hearing of cases in closed court session shall be permitted only in the instances specified in law and in accordance with all the rules of legal procedure.
Article 115. Justice shall be administered on the basis of the adversarial proceedings and equality of the parties involved in the trial. The rulings of courts are mandatory for all citizens and officials.
Article 116. Supervision of the constitutionality of enforceable enactments of the state shall be exercised by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus.
Section 5. Local Government and Self-Government
Article 117. Citizens shall exercise local government and self-government through local councils of deputies, executive and administrative bodies, bodies of public territorial self-government, local referenda, assemblies and other forms of direct participation in state and public affairs.
Article 118. Local councils of deputies shall be elected by the citizens of the relevant administrative-territorial units for a four-year term.
Article 119. The heads of local executive and administrative bodies shall be appointed and dismissed by the President of the Republic of Belarus or to the order determined by the latter, and their appointment shall be subject to the approval of the local councils of deputies.
Article 120. Local councils of deputies and executive and administrative bodies shall, within the limits of their competence, resolve issues of local significance, proceeding from national interests and the interests of the people who reside in the relevant territory, and implement the decisions of higher state bodies.
Article 121. The following shall fall exclusively within the exclusive competence of the local councils of deputies:
Article 122. Local councils of deputies and executive and administrative bodies shall, on the basis of existing laws, adopt decisions that have binding force in the relevant territory.
Article 123. Where a local council of deputies systematically or flagrantly violates the requirements of the law, it may be dissolved by the Council of the Republic. Other grounds for the premature termination of the powers of local councils of deputies shall be determined by the law.
Article 124. The competence and the procedure governing the establishment and activities of bodies of local government and self-government shall be determined by the law.
Section 6. The Procurator's office. The state supervisory committee
Article 125. The Procurator-General of the Republic of Belarus and subordinate public prosecutors shall be entrusted to supervise the strict and unified implementation of the laws, decrees, regulations and other enforceable enactments by ministers and other bodies subordinate to the Council of Ministers, as well as by local representative and executive bodies, enterprises, organizations, establishments, public associations, officials and citizens.
Article 126. The Procurator-General shall head the unified and centralized system of bodies of the Procurator's office, and shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the Council of the Republic.
Article 127. The Procurator-General and subordinate public procurators shall be independent in the exercise of their powers and guided by the legislation. The Procurator-General shall be accountable to the President.
Article 128. The competence, organization and procedure governing the activities of bodies of the Procurator's office shall be determined by the law.
Article 129. The Supervisory Authority shall monitor the implementation of the national budget, the use of public property and the implementation of the acts of the President, Parliament, Government and other state bodies governing public property relationships and economic, financial and tax relations.
Article 130. The State Supervisory Committee shall be formed by the President. The Chairperson of the State Supervisory Committee shall be appointed by the President.
Article 131. The competence, organization and procedure governing the activities of the State Supervisory Committee shall be determined by the law.
Section 7. Financial and credit system of the Republic of Belarus
Article 132. The financial and credit system of the Republic of Belarus shall include the budget system, the banking system, as well as the financial resources of non-budget funds, funds of enterprises, establishments, organizations and citizens.
Article 133. The budget system of the Republic of Belarus shall include the national budget and local budgets.
Article 134. The procedure for drawing up, approving and implementing budgets and public non-budgetary funds shall be determined by the law.
Article 135. A national account shall be submitted to the Parliament for consideration no later than five months fr om the end of the fiscal year in review.
Article 136. The banking system of the Republic of Belarus shall consist of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus and other banks. The National Bank shall regulate credit relations and monetary circulation, determine the procedure for making payments and have an exclusive right to issue money.
Section 8. The application of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and the procedure for amending the constitution
Article 137. The Constitution shall have the supreme legal force. Laws, decrees, edicts and other instruments of state bodies shall be promulgated on the basis of, and in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus.
Article 138. The issue of amending and supplementing the Constitution shall be considered by the chambers of the Parliament on the initiative of the President or of no fewer than 150,000 citizens of the Republic of Belarus who are eligible to vote.
Article 139. A law on amending and supplementing the Constitution may be adopted after it has been debated and approved twice by both chambers of the Parliament with at least a three months' interval.
Article 140. The Constitution, laws on amendments and addenda thereto, on the entry into force of the said laws and instruments on the interpretation of the Constitution shall be deemed to have been adopted where no less than two-thirds of the elected deputies of both chambers of the Parliament have voted in favour of them.
Section 9. Final and transitional clauses
Article 141. The 1994 Constitution of the Republic of Belarus together with the alterations and addenda, adopted at the national referendum (the present Constitution) shall enter into force on the day on which it is promulgated, apart from the specific provisions thereof, that are to enter into force under the procedure and at the times specified in the present Constitution. Simultaneously the Law of the Republic of Belarus "On the Procedure Governing the Entry into Force of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus" shall cease to apply.
Article 142. The laws, decrees and other acts which were applied in the territory of the Republic of Belarus prior to the entry into force of the present Constitution shall apply in the particular parts thereof that are not contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus.
Article 143. Within a month of the entry into force of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus the Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus and the President of the Republic of Belarus shall form the House of Representatives from among the deputies of the Supreme Council who were elected by the appointed date of the referendum held in 1996. The deputies of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus shall retain their powers within the term stipulated by the present Constitution. The term of their powers shall be assessed from the day on which the present Constitution enters into force.
Article 144. The President of the Republic of Belarus shall retain his powers. The term of his powers shall be assessed from the day on which the present Constitution enters into force.
Article 145. The Government of the Republic of Belarus shall exercise its duties and powers from the day on which the present Constitution enters into force.
Article 146. The President, Parliament and the Government within two months since the present Constitution enters into force shall form assigned bodies of power to the order as determined by the present Constitution, unless otherwise specified by part 3 of Article 143 of the Constitution.
of the Republic of Belarus A.Lukashenko
27 November 1996