Who pays for celebrations?

Rallies in support of Alexander Lukashenko have begun in Belarusian cities from August 16 possibly as an alternative to spontaneous rallies against him which have been taking place since August 9. We attended the rallies for Lukashenko, looked at the helicopters flying with flags, as well as at people brought in from other parts of the country and etc. We also decided to find out who the organizer was, how much did it cost and who was paying for celebrations. It wasn’t easy.

The rallies for Alexander Lukashenko were held in Mogilev, Gomel, Bobruisk and Minsk. We concentrated on material parts only.

Any rally needs equipment for the stage creation and sound system, people’s work to install and disassemble everything. In regional centers we noticed buses that brought people to and back from rallies. Moreover a helicopter flew with a flag in Mogilev, Bobruisk, and Borisov. There was a balloon in Vitebsk.

The rally’s organization in general

Head of The Main Department for Ideological Work and Youth Affairs, Ekaterina Muzychenko said the entire regional executive committee was involved in the organization for Mogilev’s rally on August 18.

-Did people also demand a helicopter with a flag? And did they ask to install the scene?

- Nobody asks for anything. The regional executive committee organizes it at the request of the residents of the Mogilev region. And I’ll tell you right away nothing was spent from the regional budget for the rally on August 18.

They did not answer where the funding came from. It should be reminded that the rallies of the authority’s opponents are de jure unauthorized. Local executive committees did not give permission to hold them. In Grodno the local authorities have already officially notified the participants of the alternative mass rally on Lenin Square about it, basing on the Article 5 of the Law “On Mass Events” (event’s application had to be submitted no later than 10 days before its date).

- But how were the authority’s large-scale events organized so quickly?

- The application for the rally was submitted by the regional coordinating council of public organizations, — the deputy chairman of the Mogilev executive committee Alla Galushko explained. — And the decision whether to carry out or not was made by the regional executive committee. If more than a thousand people participate in the event, the permission is given by the regional executive committee.

According to Yekaterina Muzychenko there were many people calling from all over the region and villages asking when the next rally would be.

The buses

Do you remember how everyone was impressed by the columns of buses (correspondents counted more than 50) with thousands of people from all over the region to Gomel coming to the Lukashenko’s rally on August 18? On August 16, the same columns went to Minsk.

We tried to find out who paid for them and how much. In “Gomeloblavtotrans” we were told that they have no information about how many of their buses were allocated exactly for transporting people to the rally.

- Then who ordered your buses?

- Branches do not report to us what is ordered. We don’t care if Belarusian Republican Youth Union, “Belaya Rus” or trade unions ordered them. If we have available buses, we will offer them to anyone who orders them, — advised the company.

In а meantime, we called the branches. However, their representatives also found it difficult to answer how many buses were sent to Gomel on August 18 and recommended contacting the head office for information. We reminded them that we have already talked to the head office. The branches also cannot answer the question of who the customer is. They said It’s not clear yet. Either the executive committees, or we drove the buses for free.

We found out how much such a trip would cost for any team on a contract basis. We asked for a price in the branch “Gomeloblavtotrans”, bus depot №1 and a few hours round trip on a weekday from Vetka (21 km away from Gomel) to Gomel would cost near 220 rubles ($84 approximately). A round trip from Rechitsa to Gomel would be 270 rubles ($104 approximately). From Svetlogorsk — 415 rubles ($160 approximately). A round trip from Gomel to the capital would cost the customer 1,100 rubles ($423 approximately). On August 16, at least 52 buses went to the rally for Lukashenko in Minsk from the Gomel region alone. At Lukashenko’s rally in Gomel on August 18, we saw at least 50 buses.

Of course it was not possible to obtain the exact information about any of the regions regarding the number of delegates to the rallies and of vehicles involved in their transportation, as well as the amount of fuel spent and on payments. Gomel officials of different levels advise “No comment” only.

Mogilevoblavtotrans also found it difficult to answer whether they had orders to transport people to the rally on August 18. However the photo in Mogilev clearly shows that some of the buses were school buses for children transportation. Some of them were marked with the Development Bank. These buses were donated by the bank as sponsorship in 2013–2017 on behalf of Alexander Lukashenko.

The chief ideologist of the region Yekaterina Muzychenko mentioned that she does not have such information that people were brought to the rally on buses and invited everyone on social networks by herself.

The trains

People were brought to the rally for Lukashenko in Minsk by trains too. For example, the train from Brest consisted of more than 15 carriages. Some of those trains were not even on schedule.

A train from Brest to Minsk with 15 carriages (12.83 rubles ticket cost — $5 US) could cost approximately 12 thousand rubles one way ($4615 US approximately).

A train ticket from Vitebsk to Minsk (it’s 9.11 rubles ticket cost — $3.5 US) could cost 4 thousand rubles one way ($1538 US approximately).

The helicopter

A DOSAAF helicopter flew with a flag over the squares where the governmental rallies were held. It was controlled by the head of the Minsk flying club, Nikolai Mochansky. He confirmed that on August 18, he flew to the rally from Minsk to Mogilev and back, and on August 19, he made a flight along the route Minsk — Borisov — Bobruisk — Minsk also because of the rallies.

Mochansky refused to answer other questions from the TUT.BY journalist.

We did calculate the cost of the flight by ourselves. And here is how we did it.

Let’s estimate how long it took for the Mi-2 to fly from Borisov to Bobruisk. We decided to calculate this time as if it were initially unknown. To do it, we looked at the distance between the two cities. If you fly in a straight line, you get about 122 kilometers. At different stages of the flight, the car flies at different speeds, but it still makes sense to proceed from the average value. Wikipedia says that the cruise speed of the Mi-2 is 194 km / h.

According to the formula S = V * T (distance = speed * time), we find that the Mi-2 would take 37–38 minutes to overcome this distance (122/194 = 0.63 hours, or 37.8 minutes).

Based on this, we can assume how long it took for the helicopter to fly first from Minsk to Borisov (71.5 kilometers), from Bobruisk to Mogilev (104.5 kilometers) and from Mogilev to Minsk (165.6 kilometers). Using the same formula, we get 22 minutes, 32 minutes, and 51 minutes, respectively.

If we summarize these figures it turns out that the Mi-2 helicopter was in the air for at least 140 minutes. We add here ten minutes (five for circling over Borisov and Bobruisk) and another 30 minutes (circling over Mogilev). In general the helicopter was in the air for about 180 minutes (or three hours).

The same result will come out if you go in a slightly different way in the calculations: the total distance along the route Minsk — Borisov — Bobruisk — Mogilev — Minsk is 463.38 kilometers. We divide by the speed of the Mi-2 (194 km / h), add 40 minutes of circling over the cities, and get the same 180 minutes of flight.

The GTD-350 gas turbine engine, which is installed on these helicopters, in principle, can use different fuels. However, on most fuel types, the engine efficiency will be relatively low, so we proceed from the fact that aviation kerosene is used for refueling.

On average, the GTE-350 burns about 100–110 kg of this fuel per hour. The Mi-2 has two of these engines. Average fuel consumption is 220 kg / h. Based on this, we conclude that the helicopter spent about 660 kilograms of fuel.

But there is a nuance. It is evident that Mi-2’s fuel consumption is lower when traveling at low speeds. And circling over the cities occurs at a fairly low speed, not cruising. Other maneuvers such as takeoff or landing follow more or less the same logic. Accordingly, we can say that the helicopter consumed 500–600 kilograms of fuel.

Considering that one kilogram of aviation kerosene is estimated at 0.4 rubles, we multiply 500 (and 600) by 0.4, and we find that the fuel costs from 200 to 240 rubles ($ 80–96 US approximately).

If we are talking about a special order, then the price includes not only fuel, but also depreciation, pilot work, and so on. For example, an hour of flight on the Mi-2 for individuals costs 1600 rubles ($615 US approximately).

The stage and equipment

Renting a stage and sound equipment also costs money. It is necessary to take into account the cars with sound amplifiers used in Mogilev.

The electronic trading platform has data on how much it costs. For example, to hold a concert on August 8 in Borisov initially valued approximately 45 thousand rubles ($17308 approximately). But the Center for Supporting the Activities of Budgetary Organizations of the Borisovsky District clarified that the final price was lower than initially indicated one.

Here is some general information on pricing for concert organization. The rent of the stage itself is 8 thousand rubles ($3077 approximately), sound equipment had the same value. The services for the technical maintenance of the stage with all its light and sound equipment were also estimated at the same amount of 8 thousand rubles ($3077 approximately).

Additional costs applied too.

The bonuses for participants

Our customers informed us that for participation in the rally (at least in Minsk on August 16 on Independence Square) there were bonuses offered: 30–100 rubles ($12–39 approximately) and days off. We want to remind that according to the Police about 65 thousand people took part in it and according to alternative data — no more than 30 thousand.

We have no documentary confirmation of this information. And we don’t want in any case to claim that everyone who travels to rallies does it for some reward or under pressure. At the same time representatives of “Belshina” had information that people were taken to Minsk because the labor collectives decided to pay them for participation.

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