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Bill on Belarusians living abroad has first reading

MINSK, 22 November (BelTA) - The bill on the Belarusians living abroad passed its first reading in the House of Representatives on 22 November, BelTA learned from the House of Representatives.

The existing legal framework has certain drawbacks. Not all matters are clearly regulated. In particular, there is no single definition of Belarusians abroad. Various documents use different terms, for example, "ethnic Belarusians", "people of Belarusian ethnicity”, “Countrymen living abroad", etc. It is important that the bill clearly defines this term clearly. First, it is the citizens of the Republic of Belarus who permanently reside outside Belarus. These are also foreign citizens and stateless persons residing permanently outside Belarus. They themselves or their direct ancestors were born or resided in the territory of the Republic of Belarus. Another category are the foreign citizens and stateless persons permanently residing outside the Republic of Belarus and identifying themselves as Belarusians (in terms of ethnic affiliation with the Belarusian nation or language, culture, historical ties, knowledge and conservation of Belarusian traditions and customs).

The work on maintaining relations with the Belarusian diasporas abroad is carried out by the Foreign Ministry, the Culture Ministry and the Office of the Commissioner for Religions and Nationalities and also the public association of the Belarusians of the world Batskaushchyna, Viktor Fesak, deputy chairman of the permanent commission for international affairs of the House of Representatives, told reporters earlier when commenting on the bill.

According to various estimates, there are at least 1.5 million Belarusians in the world. Non-governmental sources give the figure of 3 to 3.5 million, the Culture Ministry - 2 million, the Foreign Ministry - from 1.5 to 2 million. The largest community is in Russia, where, according to some estimates, approximately 1 million Belarusians live. There are about 200,000 Belarusians in Poland, about 100,000 in Kazakhstan, 96,000 in Latvia, 95,000 in Lithuania.