25 June 2018, Monday, 1:22
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Yauhen Afnahel: Collecting Personal Information Is Achilles Heel Of Decree On "Parasites"

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YAUHEN AFNAHEL

This part of Decree No. 1 causes the greatest indignation among the Belarusians.

European Belarus civil campaign coordinator Yauhen Afnahel, one of the leaders of the Belarusian National Congress, said that to Charter97.org commenting on Decree No. 1 "on parasites" approved by the "house of representatives":

– I think it will not work up to par – at least, in the form in which it has been adopted. People will find ways to circumvent the decree and are already doing so.

Another thing is dangerous. The decree is the next step to wheedling the last money out of the Belarusians, it’s an intelligence-gathering operation. Authorities, who remember the spring of last year, behave more cautiously now. They check what kind of reaction on the decree will there be in its present form to prepare its further steps. Officials have repeatedly said that the spheres to be affected by this law can be expanded in the future. Literally a month ago, Lukashenka threatened that "parasites" would pay for medical services in full. And now the main task of the authorities – they come out into the open – is to create a database of Belarusians who are allegedly not engaged in the economy. It is already clear that more than a million of our compatriots will get into it, first of all, those who work abroad.

– What do people say about the decree and the unlimited powers of commissions to collect personal information?

– This step causes the greatest indignation today, because before the beginning of next year, the financial component of the decree will not be noticeable. Not only that the Belarusians have to humble themselves all their lives before officials and bureaucrats, now they will have to do it before the members of the commissions. The law requires from people to prove to them that they are "engaged in the economy". The powers of these commissions are practically unlimited. According to the decree, they will be able to request all the information they want in organizations of any form of ownership. It is not clear how these commissions’ decisions will be controlled. And it will depend on their decision how much money the meager family budget will find missing.

The decree will hit hardest on hundreds of thousands of Belarusians who are forced to work abroad and their relatives. Minister Iryna Kastsevich managed to mock this part of our compatriots during her speech in the House of Representatives, saying that they would not be considered "parasites" if they provided employment contracts. As if she does not know that people are forced to go to work to Russia, not only without the any contracts, but even risking not even to get the pre-agreed payment for their work!

It is clear that in such conditions, the members of the aforementioned commissions will most likely get the raw end of the deal. They are recruited from pro-government organizations, which the people are already looking askance at. Given those unlimited powers that members of commissions will be endowed with, the attitude towards these people, I think, will be like attitude towards informers in a decent society. This is the Achilles heel of the new decree on "parasites".

– What can Belarusians oppose to the decree?

– Determination and solidarity where those things that helped to cancel the previous version of the decree. It is necessary to fight against the decree now by boycotting the work of commissions, ridiculing those who are part of them. Last year, those who did not believe in protests and ran to pay a "tax on parasitism" felt most bitter. Do not repeat such mistakes now, do not go obediently to bow to the members of the commissions, trying to prove to them that you are not four-legged, while waiting for someone to decide how much money you need to give away for new cars and cottages for officials or ice palaces for a hockey loser. Remember the partisan traditions of our nation, sabotage the execution of the decree and are prepare to take to the streets when the time comes.