The rescuer who warned Minsk citizens about planned government removal of the white-red-white flags has been fired
9 September 2020, 17:45 | Evgeniya Stein, Onliner
The battle between people hanging white-red-white flags and municipal services that remove them continues in Minsk. First the housing and utility agencies were managing to remove them, then the security agencies joined in, and last week the Ministry of Emergency Situations did too. However, not all of the ministry rescuers agree to carry out this non-core work: there are at least two known cases where the agency’s employees did not remove the flags but smoothed them out in the air instead. There were also those who warned the residents about the rescuers’ forthcoming visit. At least one of them – Maksim Stashulenok – has been fired with cause and given three days to vacate the rent-free corporate apartment where he has been living with his pregnant wife and child.
Maksim used to work in the Fire Fighting and Emergency Recovery Unit 2 of the Frunze city district. He joined the district resident online chat and warned them about rescuers coming to remove their flags. When the authorities learned about the incident, Maksim was called into the manager’s office, shown the screenshots of his messages and offered to explain his actions in writing. The rescuer refused because he didn’t believe he did anything wrong, so he was fired.
“First they pressured me to resign by mutual agreement. I refused because I like my job, I like working and I hope that I will return to work yet,” Maksim said. “Eventually I was accused of breaking my oath, violating the terms of the non-disclosure agreement and of disclosing national security information as well as two provisions of my employment contract: discriminating against other employees and disclosing privileged company information. All this for sending a simple text message, not a picture, not a document. Just wrote a couple of addresses in the chat.”
Maksim was made to sign the employment termination order, where he wrote: “I have reviewed it but I disagree.” Maksim is planning to appeal his dismissal in court. He has a meeting with his lawyer tomorrow morning.
“Even though I have asked my colleagues not to share this information for now, they want to sound the alarm, look for an apartment and for financial support. The fact is that my pregnant wife, my child and I have to vacate the free-rent corporate flat. We must do it within three days. We have no other place to go. However, first I want to speak to a lawyer and try to defend my rights in accordance with the law.”
As Maksim explained, it took him five hours to prepare for the conversation with his wife, where he had to tell her that their family no longer had neither an income nor a place to stay.
“I came home and heard people singing, chanting and cheering and playing the dulcimer in front of my windows. When I described what had happened my wife answered that she had already put the two and two together.”
The Onliner editorial team was unable to reach the Ministry of Emergency Situations’ public relations service to ask questions about Maksim’s dismissal. This article will be updated as soon as we get any information from the ministry.
Since publishing this piece we have received dozens of messages from people ready to help Maksim and his family. Even before this article came out, however, Maksim said that he was going to solve this problem within the legal framework, and that he wasn’t ready to accept help. Onliner will save all the readers’ offers in case Maksim changes his mind.