They have no more place to take money from.
Earlier this week, when the ban on night sales of alcohol was introduced in Minsk, my friends and me bet on the ban duration. No one won. Because no one voiced the version of "one day".
Everyone tried to relate it with political events. They assumed that night alcohol sales would become available again before the sixth "elections" of Lukashenka. Or before the new decree on abolition of pensions and salaries. Or during the plague, repressions, mass executions. But not on the following day.
After the revocation of the decision, my colleagues and friends surrendered themselves to the conspiracy theory. Something like Lukashenka intentionally played "bad boyars" so that the next day beer-lovers could open just bought bottle and drink a toast to a wise and insightful ruler who keeps a tight rein on officials-parasites.
It was rehearsed beforehand, dates were set, and official statements were prepared. After all, Lukashenka will not restrain alcohol sales, because drunken people are subject to control with no efforts. One should obey one rule - to add in on time. They also recalled the previous ban introduced in the summer of 2015. But a month before "elections" strict and harsh order of Lukashenka revoked the restriction so the electorate could remember who their hero was. And so memories of the event were fresh.
I was thinking this way in 2015. Most likely, it was like that. It might look like that again, but for one coincidence. The day when Lukashenka announced the restriction on night sales of alcohol, it was informed about allocation of 2.5 thousand selling spots for Energo Oil company controlled by Alexei Olexin to install tobacco shops across the country. Executive Committees have to provide spots without any discussions. It means the matter of national importance.
And when these two news appeared, it became clear that it's not about cheating people. It just means lack of money. At that, they have no money at all, when after many years of fighting smoking and tobacco shops, demolition of these shops popular since the 90s and hiding cigarettes behind non-transparent glass the state decides to install tobacco shops again and write "Tobacco" in capitals.
The same story happened to alcohol. When there is no money, the economy is falling apart at the seams, and the IMF denies in granting other loans, there is no other way but to raise money on alcohol and tobacco sales. Reforms are too expensive, dangerous and challenging. But the economy can fall apart for a long time unless it finally dies out. No other options exist.
Perhaps, someone has reminded the ruler of the profit gained on alcohol sales in the USSR which equaled only to 10% of all deductions to the budget. The Soviet power raised currency on oil and vodka; and everyone was afraid of this power and showed respect. And, of course, drinking Soviet people did not even take a chance to rebel when they had enough money to buy alcohol. Anecdotes were enough. But this is a dessert. Tasty enough, but it's not absolutely necessary.
Don't be surprised, if a small day-night "monopoly" is attached to every tobacco shop across the country. They have no more place to take money from.
Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org