Belarusian authorities attempt to achieve the most benefits from the potential clemency of the political prisoners
The pardoning of Bondarenko and Sannikau would allow the opposition to take part in the parliamentary elections and would also legitimize the whole election campaign. The delay in releasing the two political prisoners is connected with President Lukashenko’s absence in Belarus and is most likely explained by his personal hostility.
On February 1, Bondarenko, an election agent to presidential candidate Sannikau in the 2010 elections, wrote an appeal for clemency.
The release of Bondarenko is very probable, as is the release of former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikau, who earlier wrote an appeal. If this takes place, the oppositional forces will receive an additional stimulus against the boycott, and in favour of participating in the parliamentary campaign in September 2012.
The probability of Bondarenko and Sannikau’s release is strengthened by the lowering of the opposition’s demands. On January 31, the opposition forces signed a ‘Declaration for a Public Discussion’ in which they demand only the swift release of political prisoners, but not their additional rehabilitation (which is a demand of the international community).
The lowering of demands is of benefit to the authorities as it allows them to neutralize the political prisoners who have been released in the capacity of political opponents. Along with this, the likely release of Bondarenko and Sannikau will weaken the position of those in favour of an active boycott of the elections among the opposition and will lead to the majority of the opposition forces to take part in the election campaign in some form or other.
The Labour and the Tax Ministries are considering the possibility to include persons engaged in some economic activity without forming a legal entity in the social security system. When the decree No 337 comes into effect, the number of private entrepreneurs is likely to reduce due to the possibility of reducing the tax burden when switching to a tax payment as an individual. 95% of self-employed, including PE, pay insurance premiums on the basis of the minimum wage. The number of self-employed citizens is expected to increase, the number of insurance contributions to the pension system from PE will decrease, the number of citizens who will pay a fee to finance government spending will decrease by several tens. Self-employed citizens have the alternative not to pay social security fees and save resources for future pensions, which, given the gradual restriction by the state of pension requirements could be a more long-sighted option.