Criticism of Constitutional Changes
Both referendums were severely criticized by the political opposition inside Belarus as well as by international observers such as the OSCE. Observers state that both referendums were non-transparent and that the real results were not published. Observers were not allowed to see the process of counting ballots. Specifically, the democratic opposition to President Lukashenko decided to boycott the 1996 referendum on the Constitution. During the same election, international observers found problems with the voting process or found pro-government advertisements or notices at polling places. Opposition parties contend that the vote to dissolve the Supreme Soviet in 1996 removed Belarus' last democratically elected parliament and installed Lukashenko's hand picked parliament. Despite the claims of manipulation of the elections and the Constitution itself, there are a few parts of the current constitution approved by key leaders of the Belarusian democratic opposition. In a 2005 interview with Radio Free Europe, presidential candidate Alaksandar Milinkievič stated that Belarus' stance as a neutral country, stated in Article 18, should be preserved with regard to joining NATO and the European Union. Legal interpretation of the Constitution is also brought into question. In a 1998 journal, the New York University School of Law noted that Belarusian legal scholars came up with a new theory to deal with jurisprudence. Laws are constitutional if they follow the will of President Lukashenko and the people; unconstitutional if the president and the people do not like it. The laws that fall in the latter category are considered "ignored" by the legal scholars. In June 1999, a Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers from the United Nations visited Belarus and noted inconsistency between national laws, decrees and the Constitution. The UN rapporteur, Dato Param Cumaraswamy, especially noted that temporary decrees issued by the national authorities are still in force, even if they had expired or contradict the Constitution.
Read more about this topic: Constitution Of Belarus
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“The critic lives at second hand. He writes about. The poem, the novel, or the play must be given to him; criticism exists by the grace of other mens genius. By virtue of style, criticism can itself become literature. But usually this occurs only when the writer is acting as critic of his own work or as outrider to his own poetics, when the criticism of Coleridge is work in progress or that of T.S. Eliot propaganda.”
—George Steiner (b. 1929)