Sentences for anarchists
On 27 May a court sentenced 5 youth activists from the anarchist movement to prison terms ranging from 2 to 8 years. In particular, the defendants were accused of buring the building of the Russian Embassy in Minsk in 2010, as well as staging a series of demonstrations in the capital city in 2009.
Actions of the authorities follow their own logic. Sentences for the Belarusian Anarchists were tougher than those handed down to the post-elections protestors because they were not part of the formal opposition.
Thereby the rest of the informal Belarusian youth structures, who theoretically could become politically active (for instance, the “White Legion”, the “White Will” or a community of football fans) received an unambiguous signal on the ban on such activities. The mass detention of participants in the annual cycling event in Minsk, “Critical Mass”, which is usually held with the support of the Road Police of the City Executive Committee, also confirms this trend.
However, one should not assume that the authorities designed a plan of suppression of civil and political activity in the country. It is more likely that the authorities react quasi-instinctively to the actions of citizens, and that harsh actions by the law enforcement and judicial system imply weakness rather than strength of the state.
The rapid increase in wages has led to a decline in the ratio between labour productivity and real wages to one. Previously, the rule was that enterprises, in which the state owned more than 50% of shares in the founding capital, were not allowed increasing salaries if this ratio was equal to or less than one. The authorities are unlikely to be able to meet the wage growth requirement without long-term consequences for the economy. Hence, the government is likely to contain wage growth for the sake of economic growth.
According to Belstat, In January – August 2017, GDP growth was 1.6%. The economic revival has led to an increase in wages. In August, the average monthly wage was BYN 844.4 or USD 435, i.e. grew by 6.6% since early 2017, adjusted for inflation. This has reduced the ratio between labour productivity and real wages from 1.03 in January 2017 to 1 in the first seven months of 2017. This parameter should not be less than 1, otherwise, the economy starts accumulating imbalances.
The need for faster growth in labour productivity over wage growth was stated in Decree No 744 of July 31st, 2014. The decree enabled wages growth at state organizations and organizations with more than 50% of state-owned shares only if the ratio between growth in labour productivity and wages was higher than 1. Taking into account the state's share in the economy, this rule has had impact on most of the country's key enterprises. In 2013 -2014 wages grew rapidly, which resulted in devaluation in 2014-2015.
Faster wage growth as compared with growth in labour productivity carries a number of risks. Enterprises increase cost of wages, which subsequently leads to a decrease in the competitiveness of products on the domestic and foreign markets. In construction, wholesale, retail trade, and some other industries the growth rate of prime cost in 2017 outpaces the dynamics of revenue growth. This is likely to lead to a decrease in profits and a decrease in investments for further development. Amid wage growth, the population is likely to increase import consumption and reduce currency sales, which would reduce the National Bank's ability to repay foreign and domestic liabilities.
The Belarusian government is facing a dilemma – either to comply with the president’s requirement of a BYN 1000 monthly wage, which could lead to new economic imbalances and could further affect the national currency value, or to suspend the wage growth in order to retain the achieved economic results. That said, the first option bears a greater number of negative consequences for the nomenclature.
Overall, the rapid growth in wages no longer corresponds the pace of economic development. The government is likely to retain the economic growth and retrain further growth in wages. Staff reshuffles are unlikely to follow the failure to meet the wage growth requirement.