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Dozens Fined, Jailed In Three Belarusian Cities After 'Parasite Tax' Protests

  • RFE/RL's Belarus Service

Dozens of activists were fined or sent to jail for up to 15 days in Belarus on March 16, following protests in three cities the previous day.

The activists faced trials in Minsk, the western city of Hrodna, and the eastern city of Mahilyou one day after they were detained during the latest in a series of demonstrations against a tax on the unemployed.

More than 2,000 demonstrators marched through Minsk on March 15 to protest what President Alyaksandr Lukashenka describes as a tax on "social parasites," while protests in the other cities drew hundreds of people.

Recent protests against the tax have triggered a wave of arrests of opposition leaders and journalists, a crackdown criticized by the United States and the European Union.

Authorities have detained more than 150 people across Belarus since March 1, dozens of whom have been handed up to 15-day jail sentences.

The protests have continued despite Lukashenka's March 9 announcement that collection of the tax would be suspended until 2018.

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