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Protests in Belarus over 'social parasite tax'

Street protests in Belarus against a new tax on part-time workers spread on Sunday from Minsk to other towns.

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Protests in Belarus over 'social parasite tax'

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Street protests in Belarus against a new tax on part-time workers spread on Sunday from Minsk to other towns.

Around 2,000 people were reported to have taken to the streets in Gomel, Belarus’ second city, to protest the introduction of the tax, widely known as the “law against social parasites”.

The protests – which were some of the largest seen in recent years under the authoritarian rule of President Alexander Lukashenko – were unauthorised but were tolerated by authorities.

Their anger is centred around a new decree on preventing social dependency.

The tax requires those who declare less than 183 days of work per year to pay the equivalent of $250 as compensation for lost taxes, more than half the average monthly salary.

A slump in oil prices and the economic decline in neighbouring Russia, where many Belarussians work to send money home, sent Belarus into a recession in 2015.

Authorities say that under 10 percent of the 470,000 people are liable for the tax have paid – generating just $6 million in extra revenue for the government.