Protest staged in Minsk against “parasite” tax

Several thousand protesters marched in a procession in Minsk on Wednesday, demanding the resignation of Alyaksandr Lukashenka and the annulment of his decree imposing a so-called parasite tax on non-working people.

Up to 3,000 people took part in the “march of non-parasites,” chanting “Long live Belarus!” and “Lukashenka, go away!”

Among the marchers were prominent opposition figures, including Alyaksandr Yarashuk, Vyachaslaw Siwchyk, Lyavon Barshchewski and House of Representatives member Hanna Kanapatskaya and former presidential candidate Tatsyana Karatkevich.

Some demonstrators were carrying the Belarusian leader’s images turned upside-down.

The procession, which had been permitted by the city government and went from Independence Avenue to remote Bangalore Square, began with a rally in front of the Kastrychnik movie theater, amid a heavy police presence.

The entrances into the nearby Akademiya Navuk subway station were closed and trains did not stop at the station for what was called technical reasons.

The crowd adopted a resolution demanding annulling Decree No. 3, returning the money to those who have already paid the “parasite” tax, immediately releasing those arrested for participating in peaceful protests against the decree, adopting a new economic policy aimed at creating jobs, and holding free and fair elections.

If the authorities ignore the demands, new protests will be staged and people will demand the resignation of Mr. Lukashenka and his government, the resolution said.

Organizers said that the resolution would be delivered the following day to the Presidential Administration, the Council of Ministers and the House of Representatives.

“Lukashenka once said that he would step down when the people asked him to do so. And we are asking him to do so,” a speaker said.

The crowd responded by chanting, “Lukashenka, go away!”

Iryna Veshtard, leader of the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party, pointed out in her speech that the government should fight against unemployment, and not against the unemployed.