Car sellers at Zhdanovichy car market stage spontaneous protest

The rally lasted several hours and ended in the afternoon after representatives of the administration had conceded the protesters’ demand that the fee...

Car sellers staged a spontaneous protest after they arrived at work at the car market of the Zhdanovichy Trading House just outside Minsk on Thursday morning to discover that the administration had raised a fee for access to the facility.

The fee for the right to drive a car into market to put it on sale increased by 5,000 to 100,000 rubels ($34).

A seller told BelaPAN by phone that around 300 people took part in the protest.

Hennadz Padbyarozny, director of the Zhdanovichy Trading House, denied the report, saying that no more than 30 people rallied against the increase.

The rally lasted several hours and ended in the afternoon after representatives of the administration had conceded the protesters’ demand that the fee should remain at its previous level.

“The cost of car access was raised from 90,000 to 95,000 rubels three weeks earlier and to 100,000 rubels today,” Anatol Shumchanka, leader of a small business association called Perspektyva, told BelaPAN. “The decision outraged vendors. Further developments will depend on the administration’s readiness for a dialogue with small businesses.”

Mr. Padbyarozny told BelaPAN that no increases in the fee had occurred for more than a year.

It is likely that the fee will still be raised to 100,000 rubels next week, he said.

When the protest continued, Mr. Padbyarozny denied that the increase had sparked the sellers’ anger. He said that “Caucasian nationals” had instigated the protest, as one of them had found his market place occupied by cars moved there due to ongoing construction work nearby.

He said that the group used the increase in the fee only as a pretext, and many sellers still asked the administration to let them in the market.

Meanwhile more than 100 vendors staged a spontaneous demonstration at a market in Brest on Thursday to protest a fine imposed on their colleague by tax officers earlier in the day.

The vendor was fined for failure to give a receipt to the officers who posed as buyers, Viktar Chaykowski, deputy chairman of the Perspektyva small business association, told BelaPAN.

Although some vendors walked off the job to join the protest, roughly 400 vendors continued working at the Stary Horad market.

"The entrepreneurs are protesting such inspections and fines that total at least 700,000 rubels," Mr. Chaykowski said.

"The people are certain that sole entrepreneurs who pay a fixed amount in taxes should not be required to give receipts if buyers do not ask for them," he noted.

About 20 market vendors in Brest have been fined for the offense since the beginning of the year.

The activist said that the market's vendors planned to petition the local authorities to abolish the controversial practice.