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In Belarus last weeks people took to the streets to fight the law
against social parasitism – law that was signed by dictator Lukashenko
in 2015, but started troubling population only at the beginning of the
2017. Thousands took to the streets in Minsk, Brest, Gomel and many
other smaller cities all around the country, to show their discontent
with the law and the current regime. The protests seems to have little
influence from “official” opposition- instead of that people previously
not involved in the politics are organizing together. In several places
anarchist played quite a big role in the protests. Last week belarusian
government started repressions against those on the streets – up until
now over 48 people were detained and prosecuted for different violations.
Belarusian government started talking about social parasitism somewhere
after 2010 elections. The idea was not new to the region – previously in
soviet union people who were not officially employed were always under
threat of prosecution. This time belarusian government was doing the
same – Lukashenko wanted to punish those who are not working or working
but not paying taxes.
Slowly step by step through several ministries the idea have
crystallized – the law was written and presented to Lukashenko who
eagerly signed it. Inside it was stated that every person who is not
working for more than 6 months in a year have to pay a “tax” to the
state to cover the “social” state – free public health care and
education. The sum to pay for many people was quite big – around 180
euro per year, with an average salary somewhere between 200 to 300 euro
per month depending on the region of the country.
This was done next to already existing humiliating quantity of 15
dollars per months for those officially registered at the unemployment
center – money that you would only get after one day of work assigned by
the unemployment agency.
Of course in 2015 there was already a certain level of discontent, but
it never turned into real protests – the law promised to start working
only in 2017, and a lot of people were expecting that the government
would back off. Instead of that by the end of 2016, beginning of 2017,
people began to receive something that got nicknamed “letters of
happiness” where it was stated that due to their “financial inactivity”
in 2015 they have to pay a tax to the state. And that was the moment
when it stroke a lot of people – by the official state media around 450
000 people are affected by the law (with the working population around 5
000 000 people).
You could avoid paying the tax if you go to the governmental commission
and explain yourself and your bad financial situation. This is one of
the most humiliating procedures that belarusian people facing financial
troubles has to go through.
There is a punishment as well – those who are not capable of paying the
law can be sentenced up to 15 days of forced labor or to pay a fine
together with the tax.
Marches of nonparasites
First march against the law took place on 17 February 2017 in Minsk. It
gathered around 2000 people on a demonstration not allowed by
authorities. After a short symbolic march from the palace of republic
(main square in Minsk) to the parliament the demo was over and the
organizers from the opposition were calling people to go home and come
back in one month, giving time for Lukashenko to cancel the law. One of
the most organized and loudest groups during the demonstration were the
anarchists – and they were the only group that was shortly attacked by
the police after demonstration – one banner was stolen, however people
were unarrested and left home. Huge support for the anarchist came from
usual people that were also resisting the police, escorting participants
of the anarchist block to the safe place.
During next week the demonstrations in Gomel and Brest took place, with
several thousand participants all together. They were the biggest
protests outside Minsk in the whole history of Belarus. In Brest small
group of anarchists took over the demonstration from opposition, that
was trying to organize a meeting with the local mayor. Instead of that
people occupied the streets and went through the city chanting “No to
decree #3, Lukashenko go away” (Decree #3 is the official registration
number of the law). After the success of the march in Brest several
anarchists were arrested at home and sentenced to 5 days in jail. Later
on protests moved to smaller cities all around the country with hundreds
to thousands participating in different places : Orsha, Bobruisk, Kobrin,
Luninec are among those – probably places that you have never heard in
your life. Those small towns haven’t seen any demonstrations over
decades, and now people are protesting against the law together.
Under the pressure of the protesters Lukashenko had to back off – he
officially announced the freezing of the law for 2017, and the return of
the money to those who have already paid the tax, but just if they are
currently working or will find a work in 2017. This didn’t stop
protesters, who are now demanding not only the cancellation of the law
but also the retirement of Lukashenko and his government.
Raisins in the bread rolls
Last week on Monday the belarusian state TV has issued a propagandist
movie where the whole protesting movement is split into two parts –
those who are genuinely affected by the law and deserve compassion, and
mere “provocateurs”. The state TV is pointing these “provocateurs” as
people who are there to create another Maydan in the region and destroy
the country stability. The film explains that among those “provocateurs”
are the anarchists who are considered to be chaotic foot troops of
liberal nationalists. The movie makes clear that the government is not
going to back off under the pressure of the protesters and will repress
those who are not conforming.
Lukashenko made a statement as well last week to address the problem.
Apart from long tirades from the good king about the bad bureaucrats who
understood the law wrongly, he also made a statement saying that there
are “special” elements inside of the protests that have their own agenda
and are not interesting in the prosperity of the belarusians. Those are
again anarchists and opposition activists. Trying to make a metaphor he
called those people raisins in the rolls – obviously Lukashenko doesn’t
First arrests were made even before the movie was done – several people
from Brest were caught after the demonstration by the civil cops that
hunted them all around the town. Later on, arrests of some famous
opposition members also took place. Last days demonstrations in several
towns also ended up with prosecutions again journalists and participants
By now over 48 people were detained and prosecuted for different
violations : starting with violating the law on public gatherings and
ending up with accusation of immoral behavior on the streets. Different
activists got from 5 to 15 days in jail and some of those who were
already sentenced to 5 days were rearrested and prosecuted again for
swearing in public in front of the prison gates – common tactic of
police forces that are rearresting people inside of the prisons without
even letting them out.
Map of people arrested can be found here –
The next march is planned on Wednesday 15.03. and people are expecting
different scenarios – Lukashenko can freak out completely arresting
everybody showing up, or attacking and arresting people after the
demonstration. At the same time everything can go smoothly and police
will not escalate the conflict. The second is less likely.
Taking into account the recent statement about raisins and anarchist
role in destabilizing the whole situation, we out here expect an
increase of repressions, and more people detained/arrested than it was
in last years.
More Information about repression in Belarus : https://abc-belarus.org
If you feel like supporting anarchists repressed in Belarus you can
always donate money to Anarchist Black Cross via :
paypal – belarus_abc riseup.net
bitcoin – 1CcxWEswKjXZgXQCds5KcHfemzrAASVbuv
or bank transaction :
name : VpKK e.V.
IBAN : DE 40850205 0000 0361 5700
BIC : BFSWDE33DRE
name of the bank : Bank für Sozialwirtschaft
subject : Donation ABC-B
Today in three major cities of Belarus – Minsk, Mogilev and Grodno –
people took the streets protesting against government attempts to
collect tax off the unemployed (details of the story HERE).
In Minsk, demonstrations managed to gather more that 1 500 people, in
Mogilev and Grodno 1 000 each. These are the biggest protests those
cities have seen in decades. It is worth mentioning that most of the
protesters are far from major political powers in the country and do not
align with any opposition stream, rather prefer to point out the hard
economical conditions and results of 24 years of Lukashenkos rule.
*Around 40 anarchists organized in a separate block participated in the
demonstration* with banners saying “For the people, the main social
parasite are the bureaucrats, politicians and the police” (refering to
the law against social parasites introduced 2015 that is the major
reason for recent protests). To make the demonstration a little bit more
fun, a samba band in black joined the block. Inside of the
demonstration, anarchists were by far the most organized force that took
a lot of attention from the police.
*During the whole demonstration, 20-30 civil cops were constantly
following the anarchist block* and at the end of the demo tried to
arrest some people. Anarchists together with other participants of the
demo managed to unarrest people and get into public transport – a tactic that was quite
successful in the past months, when anarchists managed to get out
safely. However it was stopped a couple of minutes later by a bus
without license plates and civil cops rushing into the public transport. To get the
people out , the pigs used not only brute force beating up people, but
also pepper sprayed the trolleybus (an action one of the football
hooligans got 10 years in jail for in Belarus just last week). At the
end of the confrontation, *around 30-35 people were detained including
several bystanders*, who were trying to help people resist the police.
By the end of the day, some activists were beaten up so badly that the
cops had to call an ambulance.
Right now, all the arrested are in jail in Minsk police stations
awaiting trial tomorrow. Judging from recent developments, most probably
they will be punished with 15 days in jail.
Furthermore it has been reported that over 9 people from the
demonstration were detained in Mogilev. Their destiny is not clear yet.
Lawyers and food parcels are covered so far by human right activists.
*But you can always support people with solidarity actions next to local
embassies or Lukashenko’s mansions. Apart from that you can share the
news, and make the topic more visible around you. *
By the moment this article is written, over 150 people were detained and
sentenced to fines or some short prison terms for protests in last weeks