Case of Amriev: Minsk has discredited itself in eyes of international community
The Belarusian authorities are attempting to demonstrate to the Kremlin their reliability as a partner in sensitive issues. Conventionally, the Belarusian authorities prioritise practical solutions to compliance with formalities in emerging matters. However, what seems quite reasonable in Minsk, may negatively affect the country’s reputation in the outer world.
Last week, Belarus extradited Murad Amriev, a Russian citizen and the world champion in the Mixed Martial Arts, to the Russian authorities. Previously, the Belarusian authorities had extradited the driver of a Russian opposition politician Denis Voronenkov, who was recently assassinated in Kyiv, to the Russian secret services. Such extraditions form a common practice in Belarus.
Pragmatism bordering unscrupulousness creates difficulties in positioning Belarus as an independent player. By violating her international obligations and domestic extradition procedures in the interests of the Russian secret services, Belarus has damaged her reputation in the eyes of international community. In addition, the lack of official commentaries about the detention and extradition of Russian citizens could create an impression that the Belarusian authorities have no control over their power bodies. Indirectly, such a behaviour works in favour of conspiracy theories about the Kremlin’s unlimited influence in Belarus, especially amid the Russian authorities’ refusal to extradite Belarusian national Yuri Baranchik, accused of fomenting ethnic hatred for writing for Russian chauvinistic information resources, to Belarus. Such a difference in approaches emphasizes the unequal nature of the Russo-Belarusian relations to the international community.
Minsk will not complicate relations with Moscow over Russian domestic issues, which have no direct effect on Belarus’ interests. Hardly being a rule of law state, Belarus in such situations is guided by practical considerations, rather than legal procedures. This undermines Belarus’ image as a state which complies with its commitments. Yet evet worse, the Belarusian authorities create an impression as being dependent, untrustworthy and capable of placing the wishes of Moscow or even the Russian regional authorities ahead of the domestic legislation.
The Labour and the Tax Ministries are considering the possibility to include persons engaged in some economic activity without forming a legal entity in the social security system. When the decree No 337 comes into effect, the number of private entrepreneurs is likely to reduce due to the possibility of reducing the tax burden when switching to a tax payment as an individual. 95% of self-employed, including PE, pay insurance premiums on the basis of the minimum wage. The number of self-employed citizens is expected to increase, the number of insurance contributions to the pension system from PE will decrease, the number of citizens who will pay a fee to finance government spending will decrease by several tens. Self-employed citizens have the alternative not to pay social security fees and save resources for future pensions, which, given the gradual restriction by the state of pension requirements could be a more long-sighted option.