Updated at 20:51,24-11-2020

Market vendors in Brest give authorities ultimatum

Syarhey Karalevich, BelaPAN

Market vendors in Brest will reopen their stalls only after Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s edict that bans the sale of goods without accompanying documents is abolished, stallholder Larysa Bytsko told BelaPAN after a meeting between a group of vendors and a local government official on Wednesday.

The entrepreneur said that the meeting with Mikhail Syarkow, deputy head of the Brest Regional Executive Committee, had taken place in a «more or less quiet atmosphere.» «We handed him a statement issued by market vendors in Brest that says that we cannot do business in the existing legal framework,» she said.

An identical statement, signed by more than 200 market vendors in Brest, was expected to be sent to Mr. Lukashenka later in the day, said Ms. Bytsko.

The meeting resulted in the establishment of a council under the aegis of the regional government that includes stallholders at different markets and shopping centers in the city. It held its first meeting on Wednesday, discussing the possible abolition of the edict.

«Our decision is to wait for the abolition of the edict,» said Ms. Bytsko. «No one will open stalls in February if our problems are not solved. Otherwise we will run the risk of getting heavy penalties and confiscations of goods. We cannot work in such conditions.»

On Wednesday, some 200 market vendors marched through central Brest to deliver their petition to authorities.

A similar march took place on the same day in Mahilyow. On January 18, roughly 500 disgruntled market vendors staged a spontaneous rally in Homyel.

Thousands of market vendors across Belarus have kept their stalls closed since the beginning of the year, fearing hefty penalties for violating Mr. Lukashenka’s edict.