Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has signed off on changes to the law on the Belarusian presidency that grant him immunity from prosecution should he ever leave office, and implement stricter eligibility criteria for presidential candidates, it was reported on January 5.
The amendments specify that a presidential candidate must be a Belarusian citizen aged 40 or above, with a permanent residency in Belarus for at least 20 years preceding the elections. Individuals holding foreign nationality or a foreign residence permit are now ineligible for candidacy. Those changes will preclude all the opposition leaders that fled into exile following the failure of the 2020 mass protest to topple the Belarusian strongman.
The updated law extends immunity from prosecution to former presidents after leaving office, along with providing similar protections for their family members. Former presidents and their families will retain access to medical care, state security and transportation, even post-presidency.
Upon departure from office a former president is entitled to a monthly allowance equivalent to 100% of the president's wage, a lifelong state pension, insurance, medical coverage and the option to take ownership of a selected state-owned residence. Additionally, they receive a lifelong seat in the upper house of the parliament.
These changes align with modifications made to Belarus's constitution following a disputed referendum on February 27, 2022. The Belarusian Parliament approved the bill on December 22, 2023, reinforcing the legal framework governing the presidency in the country.
Lukashenko has been under pressure from Russia to leave the presidency and reform the political system after the massive falsification of the August 2020 presidential elections that returned him to office.
The All People’s Congress, a formally powerless assembly of region delegates, has been beefed up and one possibility is that Lukashenko will move to become president of that body while at the same time watering down the powers of the president and making it a more symbolic post.