Belarusian political circles’ reaction to the ‘potash case’
Some political organizations and politicians have made statements about the criminal case against the Uralkali and BPC leaders.
Some opposition groups and politicians have used the Russo-Belarusian ‘potash conflict’ as an excuse to address their target audiences. All statements were made ad hoc and did not exploit the potential of political coalitions. Pro-government political and social organizations were silent, implying that the ruling group was not ready to ‘politicize’ the conflict.
On August 27th, Vice-President of Belarus’ Liberal Democratic Party Oleg Gaydukevich said that Belarus’ actions were not political by nature and that the Investigation Committee of Belarus was responding adequately to the situation. This statement was addressed to representatives of Belarus’ security services, to which Oleg Gaydukevich belonged until autumn 2012 (he headed the Frunze District Police Department in Minsk). We also note that the President of the Liberal Democrat Party, Colonel Sergei Gaydukevich, and father of Oleg Gaydukevich, comes from a military background. The party’s support of the authorities’ actions regarding the ‘potash case’ was therefore fairly predictable.
On August 30th, “For Freedom” Movement issued a statement addressing its primary target audience, the so-called “discontented majority”. In the statement, “For Freedom” argues that the potash conflict and the arrest of a Russian citizen is a natural outcome of Russia’s long-term support of illegal political governance and economic management practices in Belarus, and its non-transparent approach to business management. The Movement called upon pro-active citizens to take part in the “National Referendum” project which aims to democratize governance in Belarus.
United Civil Party Chairman Anatoly Lebedko said that the conflict was an ‘image’ matter for the Kremlin and would continue to escalate until parties finally reconciled.
Pro-government parties and public associations refrained from commenting. Except some negative statements by MPs, the conflict was overlooked by Belarusian pro-governmental politicians and organizations. This implies that the ruling group is not ready to regard the ‘potash case’ as a full-scale ‘conflict’. However the authorities are using state propaganda mechanisms (public electronic media and loyal experts) to win sympathy in Belarusian and Russian societies.
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.