Entrepreneurs declare hunger-strike against Lukashenka’s decree

2008 2008-12-10T19:36:23+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On 10 December Belarusian market vendors all over the country hold a protest rally against Alexander Lukashenka’s decrees aimed at ruining their business.

‘December 10 is the International Day of Human Rights, and everyone will defend their rights in the way they are ready to. The Constitution guarantees us a right to work, and we will make a stand for this right,’ said one of the leaders of market vendor’s movement Viktar Harbachou in an interview to the Charter’97 press-centre.

The businessman reminded that since 1 January 2009 120 000 Belarusian vendors who were importing goods from Russia, can be thrown idle.

‘In fact, there is only one problem. Since the New Year Decree #760 denies us the right to life, the right to work. We are put in such conditions that it would be simply impossible to work,’ Viktar Harbachou said.

As said by him, the strike will be held in the way to which businessmen are ready. The regime intimidates entrepreneurs by depriving them of trading places.

‘Somebody won’t come to work at all, some will come, but they won’t sell anything. They will act in the way they are ready for. It will be decided at places, as the regime is intimidating the traders. Emergency meetings of local authorities are held in all regions. They are trying to prevent the nation-wide protest or at least downscale it,’ the leader of entrepreneurs said.

He added that a campaign of provocations is being carried out by the authorities, because in the provinces small businessmen are more determined.

‘The protest is to be supported in Barysau, Babruisk, Hrodna, Homel, Vitsebsk. As for Minsk, secret services are working strenuously and carrying out a campaign of provocations in order to prevent rallies. They say, it’s economic crisis, you should understand that, but we won’t axe you, there won’t be increase in prices. It is done on purpose in order to reduce intensity of emotions. Our people are credulous, they believe and calm down. And then the regime states that the people haven’t supported the protest rally,’ Viktar Harbachou said.

He states that at the moment businessmen can only rely on themselves, and they should place their stakes on solidarity with each other.

‘Everything depends on businessmen, on their solidarity with one another. There is no point in hoping for somebody else, we can rely only on ourselves and on your friend’s shoulder,’ the leader of entrepreneurs said.

Since 1 January 2009 Decree #760 stipulations are to come into force. According to it, fixed single tax on imported goods will be cancelled. Businessmen would be forced either to pay tax for every name of goods, processing all documents for it, or quit work. Most goods imported by small businessmen are bought in Moscow at markets, where it is impossible to draw up documents.

Since the New Year article #3 of Decree #285 of 18 June 2005 On some measures for regulating entrepreneurial activities ceases to be effective. The goods from third countries that released for free circulation in Russia and imported by Belarusian individual entrepreneurs are to be subject to customs clearance and payment of import VAT.

In recent years Belarusian businessmen went on strikes and held protest rallies many times. A year ago, on 10 December 2007 market vendors took top streets of Minsk and marched from Kastrychnitskaya Square to Nezalezhnastsi Square. They wanted to give the authorities their demands to grant freedom to private business and reverse discriminatory decrees of Alexander Lukashenka. Mass rallies were also held on 10 and 21 January 2008.