Wiretapping controversy now in Belarus
The scale of the wiretapping allows assumptions that secret services were involved. Were these Russian secret services?
Last week, the Belarusian KGB arrested members of a criminal group which specialized on tapping government officials (mostly representatives of the law enforcement agencies - the Ministry of Interior, the Investigation Committee, the Ministry of Emergency Situations and Customs bodies), businessmen and journalists (from the state-owned and independent media).
According to the KGB press service, members of the group tapped offices, phones, as well as hacked email accounts, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber and social networks. This is the first disclosure of such crimes in Belarus and the first of such a large scale: more than 80 searches, 20 criminal cases under Article 203 of the Criminal Code - Violation of the secrecy of correspondence, telephone or other conversations, postal, telegraphic or other communications – were initiated against customers.
The information about customers of the wiretapping, which lasted three years, was not disclosed. However, the fact that the KGB officials made it all public probably means that they wanted to send a signal to some alleged customers. The scale of the group’s activities allows assumptions that it was somehow associated with the secret services. If these were the Belarusian secret services, the aggravation of the war between the law enforcement agencies had started. If, which is more likely, these were the Russian special services, this disclosure would be the first public suppression of their activities and a warning for the future.
Interestingly, there are some similarities between this case and a similar one in 2014 in Warsaw, reported by the Polish media.
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.