People in small towns struggling without entrepreneurs (photo)

Maladzyechna is just over 70 kilometers from Minsk. It is two centimeters on the map, an hour by car and 13,100 rubles for a ticket on an old train that travels almost two hours. I chose Maladzyechna, because it is rumored that both the markets have been closed for a month, entrepreneurs simply stopped coming to work after January 1st. The rumors are true. In the old market, which is not far from the local district executive committee, almost all the pavilions are closed. Only single people are selling things. "We are hired workers. The owner seems to have all the documents ready. He told us to work," said the sellers of the few open spots in a single voice. You can only buy a few things from them -- suspicious-looking shoes, jeans, jacket. But the trade is active -- much better than in the Minsk-based Zhdanovichy. "Well, you can see for yourself -- three shops remaining in the whole market. So people come to us," SPs explain the hype.

Since the Decree 222 came into force, their prices increased by about 10-15%. But people do not have much choice. Maladzechna is not Minsk -- instead of modern shopping centers there is a department store. Admittedly, empty markets did not affect its product range. "There is nothing there. You cannot buy anything. And what you can buy is expensive," said customers of the SPs who are still alive. They complain that now they have to go to Minsk even to buy pants, to Zhdanovichy.

It is hard to argue with them. I walk around the city center in half an hour. Visit to the store does not add much desire to buy anything there -- the store looks like a smaller and a shallow copy of the Minsk GUM. Right next to it is a store selling shoes -- here you can buy winter boots with discounts. However, I would not buy there anything for myself.

"You know, now is generally a decline -- very few buyers. And the closed markets did not bring us any new clients. People were waiting. When did it start? Just as the dollar rate rose," said a person from the department store. The person also added that in the near future they do not expect any revival of the buyers' attention.

All is well only in the executive committee. Trade department officials would not talk about the closed outlets in the markets and the lack of normal alternative to them. Officials hang up, just hearing the phrase "sole proprietors" and the head of the department Iryna Kruk suddenly and mysteriously disappears, leaving the mobile phone in the office. She would not answer her work number either.


What's happening in other regions

It is almost the same. On Saturday, 6 February, most of the outlets are closed on the second floor of the shopping center "Preston" in Mahiliou. Many have 'for sale' signs hanging on them. Only shops on the ground floor are open, where foodstufs are sold. The shopping center "Panarama" also has about 50% of retail outlets closed. The situation is different in the shopping center "Magnit" in the center of Mahiliou -- most shops are open here. Entrepreneurs are selling clothes with certificates.

This is what the "Preston" mall in Mahiliou looks like.