Minsk: protest of entrepreneurs
Some thousands of people took part in a protest rally of entrepreneurs. The protesters demanded liberalization of business environment in Belarus.
At 1.00 p.m., about 500 people gathered near the National Academy of Sciences. They were holding banners ‘entrepreneurs have always been and will be support of people in hard times for the state. A. Shumchanka’, ‘Suffocating thousands in order some people to prosper’, ‘New conditions for individual entrepreneurs are worthy ‘contribution’ to the global crisis’, ‘Authorities! Provide conditions for business’.
The number of participants grew. By estimate of the people present, the rally gathered some thousands of people. A column moved from the Academy of Sciences along Surhanau Street to the Park of People’s Friendship (Banhalor square) where a meeting was to be held. There were no militiamen, at least militiamen in uniform. People were walking along the pavements in quiet and organized way. Entrepreneurs didn’t carry flags and from time to time shouted ‘Work!’ and ‘Freedom for entrepreneurs!’
Some dozens of people headed by entrepreneurs’ leader Ales Taustyka remained near the Academy of Sciences. They said they would go to Banhalor square – ‘place for dog-walking’. As Ales Taustyka told the Charter’97 press center, in his view, a rally in outskirts is senseless. According to him, entrepreneurs should protest near the House of Government.
A meeting was held on Banhalor square. Anatol Shumchanka, leader of Perspective NGO, addressed the mob and told about the problems the Belarusian business had faced and expressed a hope the rally would help to solve the issue on individual entrepreneurs.
A resolution, read out by Shumchanka, demands to create a state committee in partnership with leaders of entrepreneurs’ movements, and to appoint a president’s commissioner for entrepreneurs. It was also decided to recommend viewing the reference of the officials responsible for ruining of small business.
After his speech, Shumshanka announced the end of the meeting. But other entrepreneurs took to the stage and said to the Perspective chairman he could end the meeting after only his speech.
Entrepreneurs’ leader Ales Makayeu demanded that previous conditions of work for individual entrepreneurs should be preserved, among them a possibility to employ any people - they are deprived of this opportunity since 1 January 2008. It was said the participants of the rally would expect the government to respond.
It should be reminded that Perspective NGO applied for authorization of the rally.
A preventive national strike of individual entrepreneurs, organized by association For Free Development of Business, took place in Belarus on 10 December.
Entrepreneurs say to the authorities it is impossible to work under new conditions. Since 1 January 2009 entrepreneurs must buy all goods and materials using official documents, certificates, customs clearance, value-added taxes and bookkeeping documents for the purchased goods. Moreover, an individual entrepreneur is forbidden to employ any persons except for his or her close relatives. These are unreal conditions for most of small entrepreneurs.