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.
According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.