Today, we cannot separate one category of citizens – military servicemen – from other categories captured by the so-called "pension trap", which will affect many.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has managed to lobby the prompt adoption of the scandalous law "On Amending the Laws on Efficient Functioning of the State's Military Organization". Now, the last instance – Alexander Lukashenko – has to sign the document, already labelled as "Ravkov's Law".
When presenting the bill to the Council of the Republic, Andrei Ravkov, the MoD head, said that his ministry intends to struggle for the inclusion of the time of military service into the insured pension period. The MoD asserts that the proposal was supported by most state bodies.
However, Irina Kostevich, the Labour and Social Protection Minister, was categorically against:
"By 2025, the insured period in Belarus will be 20 years. Already by 2022, the retirement age for men will be 63 years, which means at least 43 years of active labour record. Isn't it enough to gain 20 years of insurance period?" Ms Kostevich has asked.
The situation was commented on by Gennady Fedynich, the leader of the Belarusian REP Trade Union:
"Today, young people go to the military service almost like to jail. Do authorities need the army, consisting of angry citizens, and not of professionals? Where will the angry soldiers, recruited by force when trying to cross the state border, direct their submachine guns in case of contingency? What does the Defence Minister Ravkov think about? What do the high-ranking 'tsar's servants' think about? To go to military service one needs motivation and a sense of pride that he/she has been entrusted to defend the Motherland. The Minister should think not only in categories of insured period, but also about motivation: an opportunity for a conscript to obtain the first civil profession while at service, or being sent to a university on preference terms, and other specific motivations."
"Let the MoD compare: who was rejected from military service for health reasons five years ago and today? It'll turn out that today, the previously unfit conscripts are recruited en masse. Just think: do we need an army-crowd, or a mobile and stable contracted army of professionals, given the fact that we have long been a nuclear-free country?"
"Is this approach to insured period correct?"
"Today, we can't separate one category of citizens – military servicemen – from other categories, who have also got into the 'pension trap'. Many population groups have suffered: the women raising children under three years old; yesterday's students of full-time university departments, and many others. Who gave the right to retroactively amend the laws adopted earlier? Who prevented the country's leadership to build a normal economy? The entire vertical of power is guilty of the fact that the economy is not able to pay for the legally earned insured period."
"Some 5-10 years ago, no one knew such a notion as 'insured period'; we knew labour experience or work record. And what to do with the citizens who had already served for 2-3 years in the Soviet Army – on what basis the service period is not included? I think that this 'pension reform' is enough for the current authorities to resign. Until they are demanded by citizens to do so."
"Irina Kostevich, the Minister of Labour and Social Protection, is categorically against the inclusion of the army service into the insured period. What do you think why?"
"Indeed, so far, young people are not thinking about their retirement. But those, who had served in the Soviet Army are approaching their retirement age and think: why are the years of our sacred duty of defending the Motherland not included into the insured period? Why should they earn their artificially created time of insured period?"
"The best way out is to abolish this anti-people law while these leaders are still in power. After you, others will have to do it, but with other consequences. Indeed, in Russia and Ukraine, the army service is included into the pension period."
"Don't scare the Belarusian people that if there is no large army, there'll be no independence. Belarusians have always been and will be able to protect their Belarus, but, apparently, not the current rulers."