Alexander Lukashenko is living up to his reputation as Europe’s last remaining dictator. The president of Belarus has decided to bring back serfdom on farms in a bid to stop urban migration.
Lukashenko has announced plans to introduce legislation prohibiting farm labourers from quitting their jobs and moving to the cities. “Yesterday, a decree was put on my table concerning – we are speaking bluntly – serfdom,” the Belarus leader told a meeting on Tuesday to discuss improvements to livestock farming, gazeta.ru reported.
. . . Low agricultural wages and limited prospects have persuaded many farm workers to leave the countryside to seek opportunities in the cities or in neighbouring Russia.
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If Lukashenko signs the serfdom decree, Belarus will be in violation of the 1957 international convention on the abolition of forced labour to which it is a signatory. That didn’t stop him adopting a law in 2012 stopping timber industry workers from quitting their jobs and it probably won’t stop him now.
Russia may however raise objections.That last part makes me feel lots better.