13 June 2021, Sunday, 23:00
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Viktar Marchyk: Low Wages Are the Key Problem in the Rural Area

Viktar Marchyk: Low Wages Are the Key Problem in the Rural Area
PHOTOGRAPH: spring96.org

People work nonstop for months.

The activist of the European Belarus civil campaign from Slonim, Viktar Marchyk, who's already run some political campaigns among the rural population, told Charter97.org about the moods in villages and agricultural settlements of Belarus.

- You've been recently cooperating a lot with the rural population. What problems do they face now?

- The main problem is low wages. There is also a lack of workers; the leadership imposes additional tasks on them. They are not paid. People do two or three jobs, but get money only for one. They receive less than the minimum wage, then the management adds up to the minimum, while people work full-time and nonstop for a month. To say nothing of the lack of fodder and wrecked machinery.

- How much do people earn in a rural area?

- A man earned Br270 in February. He worked as a cattleman and a metal worker. When Slonimskaya Gazeta published this information, he immediately received another Br100 on his card. However, several months passed and everything went back to normal. People get pennies for their work again.

COVID-19 also contributed to it. Someone was taken to the hospital, but a problem was usually ignored. In small settlements, people watch TV, which says that "everything is fine" and "there is no infection". People in the regions believed it, although they were sick and dying.

On 1 July an order stipulated that a person could do the second test at his own expense, although tests were a part of humanitarian aid. Our Ministry of Health decided to raise money. Doctors say that these express tests are not so effective. The analysis may not immediately detect COVID-19. It turns out that everyone can continue to spread the disease. Who benefits from it and isn't it a targeted infection of the population of Belarus to infect as many people as possible? Who will be responsible for deaths? The minister or anyone else?

All the more, there is no guarantee that one contracted person cannot catch it again. However, our authorities aim to re-infect everyone. It adds discontent to the rural population.

- No matter how many times Lukashenka visits collective farms or criticizes officials for mismanagement, journalists still find more and more blatant cases. Recently, the video shot in the Petrykau district showed cows drowning in faeces. They are sick and starving. Why has he failed to put things "in order" for 26 years?

- This is the brand of "Sasha 3%". He travels across the country and shows how good he supposedly is, while people around are bad. Naturally, his actions, his reign led to such a situation. For example, I know that tractors are rotting at our Tractor Plant. Give them to the collective farms for free, let them work. They'd rather rot at warehouses. This is mismanagement.

It all depends on the manager. It was necessary to give the land in private hands earlier, provide a person with an opportunity to work in peace, give loans at low interest and exempt from taxes for the first five years. When a person is an owner, everything will work properly. If there is no owner, no one needs it. It's just smoke and mirrors.

It is a pity that animals suffer because of the mismanagement and incompetence of our officials. I talked to the people in agriculture, they say that everything will decay. If Lukashenka is not stopped, we will have no agricultural sector at all.

- Even in Alexandria, the native collective farm of Lukashenka, people lose their bonuses...

- It's just a sentence on the agricultural sector. Soon it will all be over. Everything will collapse under this power. Why are the bonuses taken away? They're just looking for reasons not to give people money. Officials will seek any way to make the locals work for a miserable salary and take away everything from them.

The authorities initiated these reasons. Everyone is decaying in collective farms; an ordinary person is not to blame for that. It is the fault of the system that keeps decaying from within.

- Previously, Lukashenka stressed the fact that he came from the countryside, that he allegedly "has support" there. Is he still popular among these people?

- I am 70 % sure he is not popular today. There are still people who do not care: either old ladies of 70-80 years old, who watch TV, or officials, who can get something out of this system. They will still hold on to Lukashenka, but they are a minority in this situation.

People who see how much their work is neglected are against this system and Lukashenka. They hate these authorities. The villagers say they're ready to take up manurer fork and rise against Lukashenka.

- Can the residents of Belarusian villages become a new protest class in Belarus?

They can and they will. Time passes. The bubble is about to blow and people will rise in rural areas.

Of course, the urban population is still more advanced, they see that they can't live like this anymore. But there is a chance that the villagers will also rise. Lukashenka is afraid of it and will throw some "bones" as he made it to medical professionals, pensioners. He added €10 to the last ones. Pensioners are well aware that this is just a one-time handout. They say: "We're not dogs to accept it."

There are people in villages that are going to stand against this regime and are ready to go to the Square. There are not as many people as in cities, but the situation is escalating day by day.

I would like to address not only the villagers but all Belarusians. If you like poor wages, stay at home. If you like high prices in shops - stay at home. If you like slavery and humiliation from the leadership - stay at home. If you are afraid to speak out to a manager for wrongdoing against you and for fear of being fired - stay at home. If you like that your children, grandchildren, parents have become hostages to this system - stay at home.

If you want to live in a free and developed country, not being afraid that tomorrow you will be kicked out of your job just because you refused to be a slave and do unpaid extra work; if you want all your loved ones not to be afraid of telling the truth and not to be jailed for it, if you want you to get a decent salary for your work and be able to buy not only medicines but also everything you want at low prices in the shops, if you want not to think of tomorrow as a nightmare, then you must be on the Square.

We must defend our voices, our right to happiness and private life without slavery, violence, lies and betrayal on the part of the current authorities. God is with us and the truth is on our side. Together we will win.