Authorities seeking ways to tax ’social parasites’
The decree, which envisages a tax on ’social parasitism’, has been sent for revision and should be finalised by mid-February. This initiative by the Belarusian authorities has resulted in the greater number of people registering at the employment centers, which offer mainly low-paid jobs. In addition, problems at some large state-owned export enterprises have prompted their managers to hold lay-offs or send employees on unpaid leave. Moreover, as recession in Russia builds up, Belarusian workers started returning to Belarus (up to 400,000 people according to some estimates). The authorities’ actions have exerted significant pressure on the labour market, which may lead to increased tension in Belarusian society. As a result, the authorities are likely to reconsider their initiative and to investigate other means to replenish the state budget.
During searches of social and "green" activists and anarchists, law enforcement has seized computers, mobile phones and publications. The authorities have also exerted additional pressure on supporters of unauthorized street protests and independent lawyers, who represented defendants in the White Legion case. The security services have stepped up the persecution of opponents before the street protests announced by the opposition. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities aspire that participants in street protests would reduce in number and that the low interest of the population to socio-political agenda before the local election campaign would retain.