Haradok region: unemployed activists declare hunger-strike of protest
Leanid Autukhou and Alexander Zhytkevich went on a hunger-strike of protest when they lost any hope to get employed with the assistance of the local job center.
The civil activists are convinced that the employment denials are caused by the fact that the administrations of the local organizations and institutions are warned about their political disloyalty.
Alexander Zhytkevich was the first to declare the hunger-strike. He is hungering since the morning of 30 June. Mr. Zhytkevich faced problems with finding a job after participation in the last year’s parliamentary elections as an observer.
‘I am 24 years old and I decided to see the elections from the inside’, he says. ‘That’s why I got registered as an independent observer. I supported the candidate for the parliament Leanid Autukhou, the head of Haradok district branch of the BPF Party, for which I immediately got labeled as ‘BPFist’, though I was nonpartisan at the time. The head of the enterprise where I was working warned me that I would have troubles for it. However, I was not afraid. Then, three weeks after the end of the elections somebody wrote in the complaint book that I was illegally taking money from patients.’
As a result the court ruled to deprive Alexander Zhytkevich of the right to continue his professional activities and sentenced him to three years of personal restraint, as a result of which he is not allowed to leave his house for more than two hours a day. This circumstance made Alexander hunger at home.
‘Otherwise I would hunger near Haradok district executive committee’, says Mr. Zhytkevich. ‘During the three last weeks I received four refusals from the heads of the agricultural enterprises to which I applied for any kind of job. I am ready to become even herdsman in order to earn at least some money! I am an orphan and was brought up in an orphanage. I have never had anything. As soon as I started working, I took bank loans for the most important items – furniture and a fridge. Now I owe money to Belarusbank and can’t pay for the public utilities. I have only 120 rubles in my wallet (less than 5 US cents). That’s why I have two ways out: either to declare a hunger-strike of protest, as I have nothing to eat anyway, or to commit a suicide.’
Alexander Zhytkevich explains the criminal persecution and the troubles with employment with only one reason: in a private talk a member of an agricultural enterprise confessed that he would not employ him not because of a conviction, but because he was an ‘oppositionist’.
The head of Haradok district branch of the BPF Party Leanid Autukhou is in a similar situation. He joined the hunger-strike on 30 June in the afternoon.
‘I just have to support Zhytkevich, as this guy helped me during the elections. Of course, not a single opposition member has been included in the parliament. I stayed in Haradok. But Alexander was not afraid of being labeled as a BPF member and really applied for joining it. I completely agree with his protest against the ban to profession: I tried to get employed in different enterprises seven times. When I phoned to these places, they had vacancies, but by the time of my coming there these vacancies were already occupied. At first I thought it to be a coincidence, but then understood that this was a system!
Alexander Zhytkevich informed the job center about the hunger-strike and Leanid Autukhou entered a note in the complaint book of Haradok district executive committee that the job center could not guarantee his employment because the officials and the heads of enterprises acted in conspiracy.
At present a white-red-white flag and a poster ‘Hunger-strike’ are hanging on the balcony of Alexander Zhytkevich’s apartment, where the opposition activists are going to keep on the hunger-strike. Autukhou and Zhytkevich think that people must know about the action, as otherwise the problem of their employment will remain unsolved.