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The Constitution of 1994 is in effect in the Republic of Belarus with amendments and additions adopted in republican referendums on November 24, 1996 and October 17, 2004. It was adopted on March 15, 1994 at the 13th session of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus of the 12th convocation and is the first sovereign republic in history and the fifth in a row Constitution of Belarus adopted after the October revolution of 1917.
       The first Constitution of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus was adopted by the First All-Belarusian Congress of Soviets on February 3, 1919. She proclaimed Belarus the Republic of Soviets of Workers, Peasants and Soldiers Deputies, abolished private ownership of land and other means of production, secured equal rights and obligations of citizens of the republic, proclaimed democratic freedoms.
       The second Constitution of the Byelorussian SSR was adopted by the VIII All-Belarusian Congress of Soviets on April 11, 1927. It consolidated the fact of the entry of the BSSR into the USSR with the right of free exit.
       The third in a row was the Constitution of the Byelorussian SSR, adopted by the Extraordinary XII All-Belarusian Congress of Soviets on February 19, 1937. It stated the voluntary association of the BSSR into a single state on an equal footing with other union republics. After the Great Patriotic War, the Constitution enshrined the rights of the republic to enter into direct relations with foreign countries, to enter into agreements with them, to exchange diplomatic and consular representatives.
       The last Constitution of Soviet Belarus was the Constitution of the BSSR, adopted at the extraordinary 9th session of the Supreme Council of the BSSR of the 9th convocation on April 14, 1978 and based on the 1977 USSR Constitution.
       The current Constitution of 1994 is the main, fundamental law of the state. On its basis, the whole system of current legislation is formed, it defines the competence of state bodies. The Constitution affects the development of the legal system, defines the legislative competence of state bodies, it defines both the objects and the limits of legal regulation. The Constitution establishes the types of regulations and their hierarchy.
     Rule in relation to all other legal acts is the most important legal property of the Constitution. The relevant rules (on the supremacy of the Constitution) are enshrined in the Basic Law itself. The priority of the Constitution in relation to other acts is also supported by the specifics of its adoption, amendment or abolition.  

The operation of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and the procedure for its amendment are defined in Section VIII of the Basic Law. Article 138 states that the issue of amending and supplementing the Constitution is considered by the Houses of Parliament on the initiative of the President or at least 150 thousand citizens of the Republic of Belarus who have the right to vote. Article 140 enshrines the provision that amendments and additions to the Constitution may be carried out through a referendum. The decision to amend and supplement the Constitution by referendum is considered to be taken if the majority of citizens on the lists for voting have voted for it. Sections I "Basics of the constitutional system", II "Person, society, state", IV "President, Parliament, Government, court" and VIII "Effect of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and the procedure for changing it" can be changed only by referendum.
        The first changes and additions to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus were made as a result of a republican referendum held on November 24, 1996, to which two drafts of the updated Basic Law were submitted. 5175664 people or 70.5% of the total number of voters voted for the project proposed by the President of the Republic of Belarus A.G. Lukashenko. For the draft of the Supreme Council - 582,437 people, or 7.9% of the total number of voters. Based on the results of the referendum, the Constitution was adopted in a new edition. Along with the previously envisaged norms on the diversity of forms of ownership, political pluralism, the priority of generally accepted principles of international law, judicial protection of citizens' rights and freedoms, a rule on the rule of law appeared, powers were redistributed between the President, Parliament and the Government, some rights and freedoms were expanded. Amendments to the Basic Law allowed to ensure the effective work of the executive, legislative and judicial authorities, as well as the head of state in the interests of the Belarusian people.
       The 1996 referendum was the only legitimate way to eliminate those constitutional provisions that were in conflict with legal norms, public needs and the tasks of creating an economically stable, socially oriented, rule of law state. The next referendum, to which the questions of amending and supplementing the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus were submitted, was held on October 17, 2004. Its result was the removal from the first part of Article 81 of the Constitution of the norm by one and the same person holding the office of President of the Republic of Belarus for no more than two terms. According to the Central Commission of the Republic of Belarus on elections and the conduct of republican referendums, 89.3% of voters took part in this vote. 74.3% of citizens from the total number of those included in the lists for voting supported the new wording of the first part of Article 81 of the Constitution.
       The distinctive features of the current Constitution of the Republic of Belarus are political pluralism; consolidation of the diversity of forms of ownership as an economic basis; the establishment of equality of state and citizen, the presence of their mutual obligations; securing as a vector for the development of current legislation the priority of the generally accepted principles of international law; the rule of law; separation and interaction of authorities; the direct nature of the rules of the Constitution.
       In the preamble of the Constitution, the main ideas and principles are formulated that should guide the people and the authorities in the process of state-building and social development. This is the responsibility for the present state and the future of Belarus; self-awareness as a full subject of the world community, the inherent right to self-determination; reliance on the long history of the development of the Belarusian statehood; approval of the rights and freedoms of every citizen; ensuring civil consent and unshakable foundations of democracy and the rule of law.
       The first section of the Constitution, “The Basics of the Constitutional System”, describes the Belarusian state as a unitary democratic social and legal state, fixing the mutual responsibility of a citizen and a state.
       In the second section “Personality, society, state” the personal, political, socio-economic and cultural rights and freedoms of citizens are fixed, the duties of citizens, the responsibility of the state to society and the individual, his duty to provide material guarantees and opportunities for the full realization of the rights and freedoms of citizens .

The third section, “The Electoral System. Referendum,” establishes the basic principles of the electoral system, establishes the procedure for holding republican and local referendums.
       The fourth section, "The President, Parliament, Government, Court", defines the status and powers of the President; the order of formation, composition, competence, forms and methods of activities of public authorities, determines the structure of the judiciary and the principles of justice in the republic.
    The fifth section, “Local Government and Self-Government”, determines through which structures citizens exercise local government and self-government, their status and powers.
       The sixth section contains the rules governing the activities of two state bodies - the Prosecutor's Office and the State Control Committee.
      In the section "Financial and credit system of the Republic of Belarus" it is established that a unified fiscal, fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policy is carried out in the republic, the order of formation of budget revenues, the implementation of national expenditures, drafting, approval and execution of budgets and state extrabudgetary funds.
      The most important for determining the place and role of the Constitution, the formation of the entire legal system, taking into account the hierarchy of normative acts, has a section covering the issues of the operation of the Constitution and the procedure for its amendment.
       The final and transitional provisions are contained in the last, ninth section of the Constitution. It identifies legal means to ensure the transition to the implementation of those norms that cannot be executed immediately with the enactment of the Constitution, and also contains norms on the specifics of the formation and preservation of powers of previously created and newly envisaged state bodies.
       The Constitution embodied the continuity and experience of the centuries-old historical path of Belarus, marked a new stage in the political and socio-economic development of the country. It is based on the inalienable sovereign right of the Belarusian people to have their own statehood and to be a full subject of the world community. The Constitution of the Republic of Belarus reflects the experience of the constitutional construction of such countries as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, the USA, France, Germany, Sweden and other countries, taking into account the peculiarities of the development conditions of our society and its historical traditions. The Belarusian Constitution guarantees every citizen the freedoms and rights necessary for creative work, decent life and harmonious all-round development of the individual.
 

BelTA