Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Authorities have done everything to discredit local soviets, says deputy chairman of Tell the Truth! movement

Naviny.by / BelaPAN

The authorities have done everything to discredit local soviets in the eyes of the people, Andrey Dzmitryyew, deputy chairman of the "Tell the Truth!" movement, told reporters in Minsk on Monday.

"If a decision was made today to do away with local soviets, nobody would notice this," said.

Mr. Dzmitryyew stressed that members of local soviets were not performing their function of defending the interests of their voters. The soviets consist of people who do not want to serve as deputies but have to do this "under the pressure of various circumstances," he said.

Mr. Dzmitryyew noted that only three of the 107 members of the House of Representatives had answered an inquiry made by the "Tell the Truth!" movement in late December. In particular, the movement asked how each of the Representatives had voted on a new tax on motor vehicle owners.

In the letter, the movement noted that the national economy had been in a dire state since 2011 and asked what had been proposed by the Houses members to improve it. The movement also asked why the House had approved the 2014 state budget despite the fact that it provides for spending 15 billion rubels ($1.5 million) on the presidential website and increasing the budgets of law-enforcement and state security agencies while de facto reducing health and education spending.

Only Representative Valyantsina Lyavonenka provided a substantive reply to the inquiry, Mr. Dzmitryyew said. In particular, Ms. Lyavonenka said that she had voted in favor of the new tax because she viewed its introduction as important. The lawmaker admitted that she had not put forward her own proposals. As for the presidential website, Ms. Lyavonenka said that the importance of investing big money in information security measures had become evident after the publication of sensitive information by US fugitive ex-CIA analyst Edward Snowden.