The Russian public lobby is getting stronger in Belarus
The Constituent Assembly of the Public Association \"Eurasian Peoples’ Union\" (EPU) took place in Minsk on March 25. A former director of the Information and Analytical Center of the Academy of Public Administration under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus Yury Baranchik was elected Chairman of the organization.
The establishment of the EPU is another attempt to create a social movement in Belarus which would represent an ideological and geopolitical alternative to European-oriented democratic NGOs. The authorities’ most likely response to this action will be a hidden opposition.
According to the charter of a new and not-yet-registered NGO, the main objective of the EPU is to promote the construction of the Eurasian Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. This initiative is extremely timely, since it occupies a vacant niche in the Belarusian public and ideological support of Eurasian integration. Democratic NGOs operating in Belarus traditionally only support European integration of Belarus.
Voluntary work in the field of Eurasian integration is a new and urgent direction for Belarus. It has been monopolized by a small circle of government officials from the presidential administration mainly on projects of the Union State of Belarus and Russia. After the launch of the Single Economic Space the area of cooperation expanded rapidly, which the EPU made use of. The EPU has already announced plans to promote the state and public partnership between Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan.
The EPU’s leadership is not associated with the traditional opposition movement and is known for its moderate criticism of the Belarusian authorities. Obviously, the EPU is planning a further transformation into a political organization, but it is also clear that the Belarusian authorities will have their counteraction, since they have no interest in the appearance of uncontrollable social and political actors, especially in the Eurasian area. The first test of the Belarusian authorities’ intentions will be the Ministry of Justice’s response to a registration request from the EPU.
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.