May 21 – May 27, 2018
Society and political parties

Trade unions are preparing to defend ‘social dependants’; political parties are attempting to influence the Belarusian-European agenda

The situation has gotten better
Trade unions are preparing to defend ‘social dependants’; political parties are attempting to influence the Belarusian-European agenda

Independent trade unions have focused on stepping up their authority in the labour movement through committing to participate in executive committee’s commissions on social dependants. In addition, through organising domestic actions and engaging their international partners, they have put pressure on the Belarusian authorities to end the “trade union case”. The opposition is attempting to retain influence on the Belarusian-European relations: some opposition leaders have demanded to restore the political requirements for the dialogue, while most parties have adapted to the new conditions.

Independent trade unions aim to participate in the work of executive committees’ commissions created further to the updated decree on ‘social dependants’ to protect the interests of unemployed citizens. It is worth noting that law enforcement focused on persecuting trade unions after REP trade union’s participation in last year’s protests against the “decree on social dependants”. The authority and appeal of independent trade unions appear to have enhanced in the labour movement.

The Investigative Committee instituted criminal proceedings on tax evasion charges against the leader and the accountant of REP trade union, Gennady Fedynich and Igor Komlik, accordingly. Previously, using a similar scheme, law enforcement convicted human rights defender Ales Bialiatski. In addition, law enforcers summoned about 550 REP members for interrogation, which could be regarded as an act of intimidation and an attempt to force people to withdraw from REP membership. Independent trade unions, in cooperation with human rights defenders, plan to hold some events in support of REP and consistently attempt to put pressure on the Belarusian authorities with the help of international organisations, such as the International Trade Union Confederation and their European partners.

Some opposition parties have not abandoned attempts to reintroduce political requirements to the dialogue between Minsk and Western capitals. During Minsk Dialogue Forum held last week, some political organisations held a public forum “Freedom to Political Prisoners”. Meanwhile, most political parties are attempting to adapt their strategies to the existing conditions and anticipate greater openness of the authorities vis-à-vis their opponents due to the Belarusian-European dialogue.

Despite law enforcement actions, independent trade unions have retained organisational and legal support for the protest movement against the updated “decree on social dependants”.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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