On 1 May Trade Unions In Belarus Rally For Peaceful Labor, Opposition Rallies Against Labor Oppression

International Workers’ Day celebrations took place in Minsk and regions of Belarus on 1 May. While members of the official trade unions were laying flowers and making speeches, Belarus’ opposition took to the streets in central Minsk and other cities to protest against the “parasite decree”.

In Minsk, members of the official trade unions, social partners, activists, labor dynasties, labor veterans laid flowers to Minsk Hero City Memorial and in the Victory Park, BelTA news agency reported.

Belarusian people remain committed to peaceful and creative labor, Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus Mikhail Orda told journalists.

“The Federation of Trade Unions stands for constructive social dialogue and a peaceful resolution of all problems workers face,” the official said.

Belarus provides its people with stability and opportunity to work peacefully, he added.

Meanwhile, the opposition took to the streets in central Minsk and other cities to demand better life conditions for working people and release of several opposition figures from prisons.

Rallies in Minsk and Brest were unsanctioned by authorities; the rally in Gomel had been permitted by the city council and gathered about 100 protesters.

In Minsk, several hundred people, including former presidential candidate Vladimir Neklyaev, marched from Kastryčnickaja square to Niezaliežnasci square.

“On International Workers’ Day, we demand that the so-called presidential decree on ‘social parasites’ should be canceled. We do not accept those norms of life and labor that the authorities are imposing on us. The Belarusians are ready for changes. We demand political prisoners’ release,” Vladimir Neklyaev was quoted by TASS.

He made a speech and thanked everyone for coming and showing solidarity in the struggle for the independence of Belarus.

Another opposition politician Nikolai Statkevich, who had called on the nation to hit the streets on 1 May, had been detained on 28 April and arrested for five days. His wife took part in the demonstration.

Police were warning the protesters that the rally had not been sanctioned and force could be used unless the participants obeyed law enforcement’s orders, TUT.BY reported.

The hour-long action that was a peaceful one, as it organizers emphasized, ended near the Red Church at about 15:00.

The protesters voted for a resolution that contained demands to stop repressions, rehabilitate all those convicted for previous protests, abolish the “parasite decree“, and other demands.