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Belarus: Children Banned from Travel Abroad

(Jan. 23, 2009) On December 16, 2008, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus issued a decree prohibiting organized travel of groups of Belarusian children to the United States and member countries of the European Union. Individual travel with the parents or legal guardians is still allowed, if it is not associated with medical treatment. This decision was made immediately after a Belarusian minor, Tatiana Kozyro, refused to return to Belarus from the United States, which she was visiting under the “Children of Chernobyl” program. The program helps children suffering from illnesses associated with the 1986 nuclear incident at the Chernobyl power station to recuperate. The President stated in his decree that after coming under the influence of the Western world, Belarusian youths are induced to lead a depraved life. According to the decree, this ban will improve the country's image abroad and break the longstanding association of Belarus with the Chernobyl catastrophe that exists in the opinion of the Western public. (Lukashenko Prohibited Children to Travel to Europe, NEWSRU.COM INFORMATION AGENCY, Dec. 16, 2008, available at