Issues of unemployment, poverty become acute: Belarus protest spring in progress

A wave of repression has failed to stifle the spring protests. Residents of another Belarusian town, Slutsk, are ready to speak out against the actions of the authorities.

The main problem the locals are facing is the lack of jobs. According to the Labour Ministry, in early March Slutsk District was put on the list of the regions with big share of the unemployed. A number of companies, including macaroni and textile factories, abrewery, a cannery and a tableware manufacturing plant, closed. Now over three Slutsk resident put in for one vacancy.

“One can find a job, but it is impossible to live on the salary they offer. There are unemployed people living in my block of flats,” says a local resident.

After Lukashenka ordered to slot all ‘idlers’ into jobs by May 1, in Slutsk district executive committee established a special commission on the employment.

The opening of an yeast plant did not solve the problem either. Last year, more than 1,000 people sent their CVs to the enterprise, but only 80 of them were employed.

In view of the situation, the activists of the movement ‘For Freedom’ filed an application for holding the rally ‘For Freedom of Speech and Decent Life’ on May 7.

“Our demands are mainly social and economic; moreover, we do have environmental problems which have recently emerged very clearly. Our rally is also timed to the Day of freedom of the press, so we plan to discuss problems with freedom of speech in the country as well,” Vital Amyalkovich, a representative of the Movement ‘For Freedom’, says.

The organizers expect that about 100 people will participate in the rally and stress that the event will take place even if the executive committee refuses to authorize it.

In spite of intimidation and preventive arrests, protest rallies took place in Minsk and regions. The police attempted to bar activists and journalists from participating.

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