Entrepreneurs' strike in Baranavichy
Individual entrepreneurs demand a meeting with Lukashenka and the resolution of their problems.
The leader of Baranavichy’s entrepreneur movement Mikalai Charnavus told RFE/RL that on 1 July entrepreneurs did not work at the city’s merchandise markets:
“At the collective farm market only the meat department and vegetable stalls went to work, because the products get spoilt. All the rest do not work. No one wants to get into the yoke. We got deceived. It turns out that we have to pay 3 million monthly, but are unable to earn the money back. How are we supposed to work like that until 1 March? Only the state gets the money, you do not. People will not go for it. That is why today almost 100% of the entrepreneurs will have their outlets closed”, - the entrepreneur said.
- What are seeking with the strike, what concessions do you want from the authorities?
- They should do it like it is in Russia. Neither an invoice, nor a certificate is needed. We have joined the Customs Union, singed the papers, but it appears that only Belarusians are required to follow them, not the rest. The supplier is obliged to provide a certificate, but they are not going to. This way we will have all our money pulled out.
- What if they do not listen to you, what expects your business?
- They must listen! Nine years have already passed since the president last met entrepreneurs. He does no know their fate… We will stand until he hears us and meets us. We will now go to the city executive committee to appeal for this option.
- Explain it to a common person, why entrepreneurs are unsatisfied, what problems are you facing?
- It works like that: if tomorrow I go to Moscow and get checked on the way back, they will take away all the goods. This would all be under the law. I would have spent the money, but get the goods confiscated. This is racketeering. But if I do bring the goods, I have to go to the certification department with an invoice. Imagine, what kind of money I have to pay. For example, I have brought 20 units, so I must get a certificate for each of the 20. It would cost, say, 500 thousand… What if someone has 200 or 300 units? Imagine, how much we are losing.
- So the range will have to be narrowed?
- If we narrow the range, there will be no demand, which means you will make nothing. You will just stand there, paying rent, paying taxes, but not getting anything. They used to disposes the kulaks among the peasantry, now they have taken upon entrepreneurs.
- Will entrepreneurs from other regions of Belarus support your protest?
- I know, they will strike in Homiel region. Only 10% of the entrepreneurs have paid the tax there. In Homel the protest sentiment is greater than in Baranavichy.