Demonstration of protest symbols will be officially punished with a fine
The Code of Administrative Offenses signed by Lukashenko provides for liability for the use of prohibited symbols. For a flag on a balcony, for example, there is a fine of up to 580 rubles ($225) for individuals and up to 1,740 rubles ($676) for legal entities. It should be noted that the minimum wage in the country is 400 rubles ($155).
As for the white-red-white flag, there is no legal prohibition on its use. However, earlier the Ministry of Internal Affairs explained that the white-red-white flag is forbidden, for example, to be used at public events - rallies, street processions, demonstrations, pickets, meetings.
One part of the Belarusian society considers this flag to be a historical national symbol, while another, including the authorities, considers this flag to be a symbol of collaborationists. It was the state flag of Belarus from 1991 to 1995 and is now widely used by participants in street protests who disagree with the results of the 2020 presidential elections. From August 2020, the flag began to be massively used by protesters at marches of thousands. In addition, citizens hang the symbol of protest on their balconies and windows, on houses, on cables between multi-story buildings, paint benches and other objects in courtyards in these colors. Authorities are constantly fighting this activity.
Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly called this flag a fascist symbol. In recent months, a real war has unfolded in Belarus against unregistered symbols, and for their use, including in protesters’ own apartments, they are widely brought to administrative responsibility, fined, or sent under arrest.
Now it is not clear whether the white-red-white flag will be classified as a prohibited symbol. At the moment, nothing is said about it in the Republican List of Extremist Materials. There is no specific list in the laws on extremism and on official heraldic symbols. The flag is not mentioned in the decree of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on prohibited symbols.
Office Life phoned the direct line of the chairman of the Council of the Republic Natalia Kochanova and asked her about the changes regarding unregistered symbols. She confirmed that new legislative acts, which provide for serious fines for symbols other than state ones, have indeed been developed and signed.
“Yes, it’s true. Measures of, for now, the administrative impact will be applied for the placement of unidentified symbols,” she said. “Minsk has already been well cleaned. We have a law that defines state symbols - coat of arms, flag, and anthem. Anything else is considered unidentified symbols. Therefore, it will be punished for.”
Belarusian legislation today distinguishes between such concepts as state symbols, registered symbols, and prohibited extremist symbols. The concept of “unidentified symbols” is not spelled out in the legislation, which doesn’t prevent the authorities from punishing for it.
Lukashenko ordered to expose a symmetrical response to EU sanctions
Alexander Lukashenko held a meeting on EU sanctions with Industry Minister Petr Parkhomchik and Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Nazarov. Lukashenko called the sanctions against Belarusian enterprises “gangster” and set the task for the government to “respond symmetrically.” Lukashenko also ordered to provide support to MZKT, “Amkodor”, and “a couple more.”
The EU sanctions list includes seven Belarusian companies financing the Lukashenko regime. Among them are MZKT, AGAT, 140th Repair Plant, Main Economic Department of UDP, Dana Holdings / Dana Astra, Sinezis, Beltechexport, as well as the largest enterprises of the Belneftekhim concern.
After the meeting with Lukashenko, Industry Minister Petr Parkhomchik told reporters that there are still little specifics. But it is obvious that a number of partners of engineering enterprises from Finland and Germany are “delaying the supply of components.”
The minister believes that the primary task of Belarusian enterprises in such a situation is to find solutions with the help of mechanisms that are currently available to the domestic industry - through import substitution and localization of components.
Lithuanian companies file a lawsuit against the Belarusian government
Lithuanian companies Pavilniu saules slenis and Modus grupe applied to international arbitration with a claim against the Belarusian government.
The subject of the trial was a hotel construction project. Apparently, the hotel near the Minsk National Airport is implied. The essence of the claims was not disclosed.
The case will be considered by the Arbitration in the UK, in Vail (Tunbridge Wells).
The defendants in the case are to be the Belarusian president, the prime minister, and the Minsk Mayor’s Office.
The last public mention of the construction of a hotel near the airport was made by the airport’s general director Vyacheslav Khoroneko in September. The head of the airport said that he managed to find an investor for the construction of a hotel in the adjacent territory. According to him, the construction of the facility should begin in 2021.
Belarusian government points out the absurdity of linking the Ice Hockey World Championship with politics
The organizing committee for the Ice Hockey World Championship in 2021 has confirmed its readiness to host it in Belarus. An official statement on this matter is posted on the government website.
It says that Belarus is ready to provide a set of organizational and anti-epidemic measures for the safety and comfortable stay of participants and guests of the 2021 World Championship. Also, Belarus undertakes to provide access to foreign media for coverage of the championship and guarantees stable operation of the Internet.
“The alleged exclusion of Belarusian athletes from the national teams and suspension from the competition for political views are unfounded,” the appeal says.
At the same time, the organizing committee acknowledges that there have been facts of detention and prosecution of individual athletes for participating in protest actions.
According to the organizing committee, linking the holding of the 2021 World Championship with the amendments to the Constitution, “the organization of some kind of 'dialogue' and other internal issues of Belarus is absurd.”
The organizing committee explains that the delegates of the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly will work out directions for the country’s socio-political development, including approaches to changing the Constitution.
“The Belarusian authorities are open to any dialogue with their citizens, but not on their knees and not in conditions of external pressure,” the appeal says.
20% of Belarusian travel agencies had to be closed due to the pandemic
In Belarus, almost 20% of travel agencies left the market of travel services based on the results of work in 2020. The head of the Republican Union of Tourist Organizations Oksana Bichun talked about this in an interview with Smartpress.
According to the head of the RUTO, the failure of the authorities to recognize the problems of the tourism industry naturally leads to the accumulation of losses by travel companies, further layoffs, and bankruptcies of large players in the market.
Belarusian travel companies are still waiting for universally recognized tools of support, such as subsidies, loans, tax credits, relaxation of regulatory requirements.
The dialogue with the government showed that such expectations are in vain, so what is left is to rely on such an instrument as a postponement of the fulfillment of obligations on services to consumers until the end of 2021 with the possibility of extension.
Bichun recalled that the law “On financial insolvency” obliges government agencies to take timely measures to prevent bankruptcies. The first step in this direction is to help travel companies replenish working capital since in 2020 they missed out 70-80% of their revenue compared to 2019.
Belarusian travel companies returned the money to those tourists who could not postpone tours to 2021. Reimbursement ranged from 60 to 80% of obligations. The resources had to be withdrawn from the working capital of travel companies formed from the sale of tours in open directions. However, most of the fulfillment of obligations has been postponed to 2021 with the consent of clients.