20 July 2019, Saturday, 19:57
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An Advocate for ‘Parasites’: I Laughed I Had Rich Relatives in the USA

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Do officials realise that they humiliate themselves by executing Lukashenka's decree?

Of all the regions of Belarus, Homel region reports on the gravest resistance to "parasites".

Recently, an activist of the REP trade union from Homel, Maria Tarasenka, filed for protests in all 24 districts of the Homel region and was denied everywhere. She challenged the decision in courts already held in Brahin, Rahachou, Kastrychnitskaye, Mozyr and Homel.

Special Rapporteur on Belarus Anaïs Marin will present a report at the UN Human Rights Council. The report also includes the story of Homel residents, including Maria Tarasenka, resisting the decree on "parasites".

Charter97.org asked the activist to tell about the latest news from the "parasite front".

- You have recently had to stand in courts for the right to hold marches of "parasites" in Homel region. How did it happen?

- After expected rejections of peaceful protest actions, I decided to challenge each of them in court.

Courts clearly show what reasons the authorities have when imposing restrictions on our constitutional rights.

In general, I can say that there are no original or extraordinary reasons for refusals to hold a street action. The authorities only say that I do not clarify the route.

According to local officials, I should not only specify the street but also the number of houses when our march begins and ends. It's original, isn't it?

The second reason, also a common one, is the alleged little distance from the state, educational institutions and so on, which should be mainly 50-100 meters away from the organized event. Small towns and villages with little space and all these buildings in the centre are fond of using this lever.

Sometimes it comes to curious cases as it happened in Brahin. Officials of the local executive committee came to the court with a tape measure and began to measure the distance from the court building to the pedestrian part of Savetskaya Street, where I announced the march.

- What other curious cases occurred during litigations with officials?

- There are some quite unusual situations that I will remember for a long time.

Sometimes officials believe that they ask me catchy questions, although, in fact, they are just impolite.

For example, officials from Yelsk were interested in my sources of income, how I would "pay for the event".

The chief of the department for personnel work of Yelsk District Executive Committee, Aliaksandr Mazuranka, asked directly: "You paid the court fee. Where did you get the money from, if you don't work?" The question, frankly speaking, is impolite, because, only tax authorities have the right to ask me these questions.

As a result, in order to bate official's curiosity, I laughed about rich relatives from the USA.

But in general, I can say that provincial officials keep their upper lip stiff in courts. In general, people in the districts differ from us, the residents of big cities. They are more open-hearted, friendly and sociable. In Brahin, for example, storks nest on the roof of the court, which means that people are not bad, and the energy is good there.

- But at the same time, they measure the street with roulette to prevent a peaceful action... After your stories about hearings, the question arises: don't officials realise that they humiliate themselves by executing Lukashenka's decree on "parasites"?

- I guess they do realise that all this is absurd, but they are executors. That's it. Their opinion is not taken into account.

The very idea of increasing payment for housing and communal services for "parasites" defies common sense. This is illegal and stupid to make a person work and make him subject to 5.5 times higher utility bills.

- It became known that your story will be voiced from the UN podium. How do you assess this fact?

- It is high time to bring the fight against the decree to the international level. At least because it contradicts both the Constitution and legal obligations signed by Belarus.

And if the Constitution, its norms, is only a name for our authorities, then the maximum public disclosure of this absurd idea to impose additional fees on the unemployed may bring its positive results.

A high UN podium will only serve to help.