Belarus has denied visas to two observers who planned to monitor Sunday’s parliamentary polls in the isolated country for the OSCE mission, Europe’s security and rights body said Wednesday. “Two parliament members from Germany and Lithuania who planned to observe the elections were told they would be denied visas” by the Belarussian foreign ministry, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly said. Visa denials to European lawmakers from international observer missions are extremely rare, and the last time Minsk barred foreign observers was in 2006, said spokesman for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Neil Simon. Simon named the two banned observers as Marieluise Beck from Germany and Emanuelis Zingeris from Lithuania.
As EUbusiness reported, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had previously received assurances from Minsk that observers would face no restrictions in Belarus, he said in emailed comments to AFP. “We have not yet heard an explanation from Minsk as to why the visas were denied,” he said, adding that Beck had been active in promoting human rights in Belarus and reached out to activists in the ex-Soviet country.