Around 2,000 people took to the streets of Gomel, Belarus’s second city, the independent news agency tut.by reported, and hundreds more marched in other cities. The new tax, enshrined in a decree on preventing social dependency, widely known as the “Law against social parasites,” requires those who declare less than 183 days of work per year to pay $250 in compensation for lost taxes — more than half an average monthly salary.
The rare protests in Belarus – commonly known as Europe’s last dictatorship – have spread beyond the capital Minsk to other cities where thousands have marched against a harsh new tax law, according to reports.
The protests were unauthorized but appeared to be tolerated by the authorities with no reports of arrests, DW adds.
“Lukashenko may still look and sound like the rough-cut collective-farm director that he once was, but he should not be underestimated,” says Carnegie analyst Thomas de Waal. “Having been in power since 1994, he has become Europe’s ultimate survivor and deal maker. He tries to keep his options open with the EU while not allowing Russia to take him for granted.”