Hundreds of demonstrators marched in the Belarusian city of Gomel to protest a law against “social parasitism.” The February 19 protest included people of all ages and passed without incident despite not having been approved in advance by the authorities. The law requires people who were employed fewer than 183 days in a calendar year to pay an equivalent of about 200 U.S. dollars as a special tax imposed to combat what Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka calls “social parasitism.” The law exempts registered job-seekers, homemakers, subsistence farmers, and those working in Russia. Officials say only about 10 percent of the 430,000 Belarusians affected by the law have paid the tax so far. The deadline for compliance is February 20. (RFE/RL’s Belarusian Service)

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