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Hundreds Rally In Minsk To Condemn Hazing In Army And Tax On 'Social Parasites'


Hundreds of people attended the protest rally in Belarus on October 21.
Hundreds of people attended the protest rally in Belarus on October 21.

Several hundred people took part in a protest rally in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on October 21 to condemn hazing in the armed forces.

The rally was organized by Mikalay Statkevich, an opposition leader and former presidential candidate who spent five years in prison on what were largely viewed as politically motivated charges.

Hazing in the Belarusian Army is considered a major problem, sometimes leading to suicides or murders.

Thirty-seven suicides were registered in Belarus's armed forces between 2008 and 2017. There have been calls on the country’s defense minister to resign over the issue.

The protesters in Minsk also condemned a law locally known as a regulation against "social parasites."

In February and March, thousands of Belarusians took to the streets to protest the unpopular labor law introducing taxation of what it called "social parasites" -- unemployed people.

The rallies were the largest antigovernment demonstrations in Belarus in years.

Dozens of protesters were arrested and many of them were either fined or sentenced to up to 15 days in jail following those rallies.

The country’s authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka claimed that the protests earlier this year were planned by his opponents and others who allegedly want "to impose tension in Belarus with financial assistance" from the West.

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