2014 26/03

On March 25, 2014 in Minsk you could see many completely unfamiliar faces. And it was noticeable that some new people decided to come out with national symbols of Belarus or Ukraine, and took an active part in mass actions on celebrating a traditional for Minsk FREEDOM DAY.

And it’s all been seen and cheered up the audience.

According to various estimates from 2500 to 5000 citizens got into the streets of Minsk on March 25 to celebrate Freedom Day and to support the slogans of demonstrators against the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, to express solidarity with political prisoners in Belarus and Ukrainian people, who fight for freedom and independence, territorial integrity and national sovereignty of their country.

On the streets of the Belarusian capital one could see a lot of young people of different age, stylishly dressed young women with national symbols, parents with children, and well known Belarusians. A distinctive feature was that among the white-red-white Belarusian National symbolism used by demonstrators and yellow-blue Ukrainian, official Belarusian flags were used. There also was the symbolism of some political parties and informal associations, and some young people were seen with black-and-white flags – on a black background a white image of the emblem “Kalyumna”, which in the ancient times together with the emblem “Pahonia” was a state symbol of the Belarusian (Litvin) fatherland, the Great Duchy of Lithuania (GDL), and was actively used during the famous battle of Grunwald.

You could feel solidarity of motorists and residents of the houses standing close to the route of the procession. People came out to the balconies of their apartments and welcomed the demonstrators, photographed them through the opened windows. Motorists sounded horns, some people raised through the window festive red and white balloons.

On this day, the observers’ attention was attracted by a large number of provocateurs who launched into the crowd and by their behavior and views clearly tried to provoke conflicts, and to create a negative image, completely contrary to the mood and the slogans of Freedom Day.

The so-called “security” system, organized by law enforcement structures in Minsk during the admitting demonstrators to the Bangalore square also attracted attention. People were let passed through three frames of the fenced area, fixed on video cameras, allowed or not allowed bringing in posters. All this was done very slowly and meticulously, so the rally could not have been held.

Very significant is the fact that with all this the authorities have not turned on the lights in the area specially organized for events. Not a single lantern lit around the square, not a single spotlight specially installed on concrete pillars.

All this does not correlate with the objectives of any safety concerns, nor with the objectives of promoting the rights of individuals conducting peaceful events.

In this situation, the organizers decided to hold a brief rally directly at one of the checkpoints, around which the bulk of the participants gathered. To do this, those who have already gone to the rally place and to the scene, were sent back to the people who stayed at the entrance. Thus, the organizers were forced to hold the festive rally in a shortened version and in abusive and uncomfortable conditions, without proper grandstand, sound and without any lighting at place of the meeting (see photo).

After such a brief meeting, young people remained in the park. People gathered around musicians next to the square in a single lit alley under the street lamps. Participants of the “Freedom Day – 2014” in Minsk, mostly young people, played the guitar… and sang songs from the repertoire of Belarusian and Ukrainian bands: NRM (“Three turtles” …), Lyapis Trubetskoy (“Not to be an animal”) and the famous Ukrainian band Okean Elzy… However, after 10 minutes through a megaphone riot militia began requiring people to leave the place. They explained this by the fact that the time claimed the rally has been exhausted. It was obvious that any other (other than declared and approved by the authorities), civil initiatives and activities – such as natural human contact, communication between citizens, songs in Belarusian-language in the park, etc. – do not fit into the system of a completely controlled and imposed to the society total security, which requires prior permission from the pro-government ideologues. Otherwise realization of any natural liberty will cause an inappropriate response of law enforcement agencies and the following administrative penalties and sanctions.

One could guess about already planned detentions – there was an order not to let out anyone from the park. Obviously they meant the certain, already planned to arrest people.

So it happened, militia did not stop this time its unlawful practice of hunting activists and arresting them for political reasons.

According to observers of the BHC and the HRC “Viasna” on this day were detained activists of “EuroBelarus” Leanid Kulakou, Ulad Barodka, Alena Lazarchyk and Siarhey Matskoits and activists of the “Young Front” Zmitser Drozd and Stanislau Rachkel, which were released without drawing up protocols. Minor Viktar Kashkevich was took back home by his parents. On detained Maxim Viniarski and Aliaxandr Blizniuk protocols on administrative offense were drawn, the next day after a night in jail the convicted Maxim Viniarski received 15 days in jail upon article 17, 1 and 23.4 of the Administrative Code (disorderly conduct and disobeying order or request of an official authority during the conduct of official duties). Judge – Alena Niakrasava. Witnesses in the court – chief of riot militia Tarasau, who during a rally on Freedom Day worked in civil clothes and militia officer Reut.

According to charter97, coordinator of “European Belarus” Maxim Viniarski was detained yesterday at about 20:30 in the yard of Bogdanovich str, 178 after the rally. During the procession the activist carried a black banner with the words “Death to Kremlin occupiers”.

Until now, the whereabouts of the detainee Aliaksei Markouski is not known. Human rights activists are trying to find out his whereabouts. Aliaksei Markouski was released yesterday without a protocol.

A.Blizniuk was sentenced to 5 days of arrest (art.17.1, 23.4 of the Administrative Code). The accused carried a Ukrainian flag and shouted “For Ukraine!”.

Organizations-participants of monitoring consider these detentions arbitrary and not related to the commission of any offenses by the detainees.

Aliaksei Lapitski for
Belarusian Legal Portal
Photo made by the author.

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