Belarus authorities expand repressions against businesses

Repressions are now in place against businessmen and commercial structures who expressed solidarity with the participants in peaceful protests or used the right to participate in the general strike announced by Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya on October 26. The Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade suspended the activities of four more economic entities for 90 days for formal reasons, but with the political context in the decision.

Tsudounaya Krama in Orsha is both a shop and a museum. It sells handicrafts by local artisans and artists. There are also things with national symbols.

At the beginning of October, the store faced pressure from the Orsha authorities: several inspections, fines, searches took place in the retail space and in the apartment of businessman and public activist Ihar Kazmerchak. The formal reason was a criminal case for tax evasion.

Pressure is also mounting on businesses that have been on strike or have shown loyalty to protesters. Recently, the Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade has suspended the work of four business entities in Minsk for 90 days. And before that, the OZ chain of stores closed 12 outlets all over the country at once. Thirteen more businesses in Brest, Hrodna, Mahiliou and Minsk were closed earlier.

Government repression is not limited to commercial structures. Back in October, the authorities of Hrodna deprived the children’s hospice of St. Hubert of premises for the civic position of its director Volha Vyalichka. The hospice has supported 70 families with seriously ill children for 13 years. Artists from different cities have staged an exhibition to support the hospice.

In the near future, these works will decorate the interiors of the recently built pilgrimage center. The Orthodox Church transferred it over to the children’s hospice.

Ihar Stankevich,