Brahin authorities peddle weekly unpaid clean-ups
Yatchanka, chairman of the executive committee of Brahin district (Homel
region) signed a decree to force local residents to take part in weekly neighborhood
clean-ups for the improvement of the district’s settlements.
"The action will be continued until early December, and during this time we need to clean up around our homes, as well as outside office buildings, in the streets, places of public entertainment, in order to prepare for the winter properly," says the district government-owned newspaper “Mayak Palessia".
Unpaid labor for the "good of the state" is not new for Belarus. However, in other areas forced clean-ups are carried out once or twice during the fall. In Brahin district, which is heavily affected by the Chernobyl disaster, with economic conditions that leave a lot to be desired from year to year, the authorities have gone even further, announcing a campaign of weekly Saturday unpaid clean-ups.
According to official statistics, the population of Brahin district is about 13,000 people, of which about five thousand are employed. Only 56 people are officially registered as unemployed (1%). The average salary for January-September 2012 amounted to 2.5 million rubles. The economic situation is clearly evidenced by the fact that in January-September only $2,600 of foreign direct investment was attracted to the area.
Forced labor is prohibited by the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus. However, this has been repeatedly ignored by the Belarusian authorities. For example, on November 15 Homel police gathered local homeless to clean up a public park for a cup of tea and a pack of instant noodles. As reported by the homeless, they were forced to work under threat of detention, or even use of violence.