Belarusian President Replaces Soviet-Era "Propiska" With Residence Registration

President Lukashenka has signed a decree that will replace the Soviet-era practice of demanding residence permits from citizens ("propiska" in Russian) with equally strict residence-registration rules as of January 1, 2008, Belapan reported on September 9. A person can currently obtain propiska at an apartment owned by someone other than his/her spouse or other immediate relative if there is at least 12 square meters of space available for him or her. The new rules will raise the required space minimum to 20 square meters in Minsk and 15 square meters elsewhere in the country. Earlier this year, Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau warned that police would intensify punishment against people living in accommodation without residence registration after the new rules take effect, adding that citizens' tipoffs about such violations would be welcome. "The registration system is needed...or else half the nation will be employed in Minsk and there will be only old folks in the provinces," Navumau said in January. JM