Belarusian authorities use financial prosecution to de-motivate activists to participate in protest activity
Public Initiative "A Step towards the Law" started a petition requesting to stop the practice of imposing significant fines for participating in unsanctioned rallies. In fact, fines, according to activists totalling some USD 150,000, have become a heavy burden on civil and political activists. For instance, the authorities seized the car from ‘Malady Front’ leader Zmitser Dashkevich for unpaid fines totalling circa USD 5 000, they are threatening to take away the only apartment from activist Olga Nikolaichik, and the dacha of Nina Baginski. In response to the announced by the opposition several protest actions in support for those affected by the ‘decree on social parasitism’, the authorities have stepped up financial pressure on opposition activists. ‘A Step towards the Law’ initiative is unlikely to find an understanding with the authorities, because demonstrative confiscations and threats of penalties help to reduce the mobilization capacity of the opposition in organising protest actions.
According to Decree No. 221 of June 23rd, 2017, deadlines for the completion of foreign trade operations have been extended from 90 to 180 days for exports and from 60 to 90 days for imports. Delayed payments entailed a fine up to 2% of the transaction cost for each day of the delay, but could not exceed the total cost of the transaction. Most companies, when working with new counterparties, require a deferred payment for a period of three to six months. Due to the new regulation, violations are likely to reduce in number, so as the fines. Trade enterprises are likely to expand the assortment list due to the supply of new products in small lots, and the assortment list of exported Belarusian goods could expand, too. The new terms for completing foreign trade transactions would enable medium and small companies on the foreign trade market, exporters and importers are likely to grow in number and the geography of export-import operations could expand.