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Mass Protests Against ‘Parasite Tax’ Continue Across Belarus

On Sunday, 12 March, mass protests against Decree No3, known as the ‘law against social parasites’, are taking place in three Belarusian cities – Bobruisk, Brest and Orsha.

On 10 March a protest was organized in Molodechno, the next day – in Pinsk.

The biggest action on Sunday is being held in Bobruisk, where about 700 people gathered in the main square.

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Protest in Bobruisk on 12 March. Photo: TUT.BY

According to TUT.BY, protesters were chanting slogans “How shall we live? There is no money, there is no work” and holding posters saying “We are not slaves” and “No to Decree No3!”.

12.03.2017, Бобруйск.

Men are holding a poster “Bobruisk people are not slaves” during a protest on 12 March. Photo: TUT.BY

In Brest, a column of about 100 citizens marched through the central streets shouting similar words.

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Participants of mass protest in Brest, 12 March. Photo: TUT.BY

The protest in Orsha started at 13.00 local time. Some 400 local citizens have joined the march.

Before the beginning of Sunday’s marches, the media reported detentions of opposition politicians and activists, and journalists of some non-state media who arrived to cover the events.

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People gather for a protest against decree No3 in Orsha on 12 March. Photo: TUT.BY

Following mass protests, that took place across Belarus this month, president Alexander Lukashenko suspened the tax imposed by the decree for 2017. He also ordered the government to adjust the lists of citizens, who are subject to paying it, by 1 October.

Decree No3 “On the Prevention of Social Dependence” was adopted in 2015.

According to it, Belarusians, who choose not to work or did not work for 183 or more days during the previous year, have to pay a compulsory tax. The tax, which became known as the ‘parasite tax’, is equivalent to about $200.

The deadline for paying the tax for 2015 expired on 20 February 2017. Over 54,000 Belarusians paid it, while the number of those who received tax notes is 470,000, according to the authorities.