The Chernobyl Shliakh (Chernobyl Path) demonstration
For the first time in many years, on 26 April, on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in Belarus there was no Chernobyl Shliakh demonstration. It was replaced with a rally.
The Chernobyl Shliakh demonstration, organized by the Belarusian opposition and taking place every year, is an important event on the political calendar, along with the Den Voli (Freedom Day) on 25th March. Traditionally on those memorable days the opposition staged processions and rallies in and outside the capital, regardless of the permission by the authorities. This year, the Chernobyl Shliakh’s organizers (Yuri Khodyko and the “Belarusky Ruh”) have staged a sanctioned rally in the park of Friendship of Peoples. The event attracted several hundred people, which is an unprecedented small number of people for the Chernobyl Shlyakh, particularly for the anniversary.
There is a steady trend towards the decline of participation in the oppositional street protests. Despite the numerous actions on the days of the presidential elections on 19 March 2006 and 19 December 2010, which attracted tens of thousands of participants not associated with the opposition directly, the events organized by the opposition since 2008 European and Social Marches attract a small number of participants. Currently there is no reason to expect a breakthrough in this trend.
The country's leadership has instructed the local authorities to raise minimum wages at enterprises by the end of 2019 to BYN 1,000, which would lead to an increase in the average wage in the economy as a whole to BYN 1 500. The pace of wage growth in 2017 is insufficient to ensure payroll at BYN 1000 by late 2017 without manipulating statistical indicators. In order to fulfil the president’s order, the government would have to increase budgetary expenditures on wages in healthcare and education, enterprises – to carry out further layoffs and expand the practice of taking loans to pay wages and restrict investment in modernisation of fixed assets. In 2010, the artificial increase in wages led to a threefold devaluation in 2011, an increase in the average salary to BYN 1500 will not match the capabilities of the economy and would lead to yet another devaluation.