Bacchanalia on Ancestors’ Tombs
The Kuropaty defenders keep resisting police attempts to get the place cleared for the construction works. Over the past four days hundreds of Minskers visited the site, indignant with the barbarity of the authorities, which ruled to lay the ring road across the cemetery. In response, the government dispatched there riot police units to suppress the protest moods. The cruelest beating occurred in Kuropaty on November 8. Over two hundred riot police officers beat old people, women and teenagers with rubber clubs, heavy military boots, dragged them on the ground, threw down into the mud and again brutally beat… They also applied tear gas against the protectors of Kuropaty.
On that day the riot police militiamen encircled the defenders of the sacred place and the bulldozer started breaking the crosses, erected there. The law-enforcers and plain-clothed agents did likewise. ZUBR activist Yaroslav Steshik sought to cover the cross with his own body. 6 cops attacked him and dragged him away from the cross. They in no time delivered the man to a police station. Among the detainees was also BPF CCP activist Yukho.
After dispersing the initial protest the trucks brought sand to the place, while the bulldozers began to even it over the tombs. In response, some 150 ZUBRs and Youth Front members blocked the road and went on shouting “Long Live Belarus!”. Some of the Zeleny Lug suburb tenants joined them.
The riot police soldiers took out their truncheons and rushed to the protesters. The police acted as real fascists: they beat everyone, including young ladies and children. Those who fell on the ground were heavily kicked. Nonetheless, a few guys rested on the road, yelling: “Fascists” at the attackers. During the dispersal the law-enforcers applied tear gas “Cheremukha” against the crowd.
Two ZUBR activists: a boy and a lady were hospitalized. They also beat up a journalist Natalya Radina and Charter’97 coordinator Dmitry Bondarenko. Two more ZUBRs were captured: Alexander Otroschenkov and Yuri Fabishevsky, as well as BPF CCP activist Evgeny Kiyko. All of them were taken to the police station of the Minsk district, where they faced protocols over violating articles 166 and 167/1 of the Administrative code (insubordination to police commands and violation of order of mass assemblies).
Around 150 ZUBRs gathered in Kuropaty the following day. At seeing that the road works at Kuropaty resumed, ZUBRs rushed to block the road. In no time there showed up some fifty riot policemen and tried to oust them from the road. They attempted to arrest the protesters but couldn’t snatch them from their friends’ hands. The defenders formed a line across the highway and stood like that for an hour.
Same day the law-enforcers detained a dozen of Youth Front and BPF activists, who appeared at the place of confrontation a couple of hours before ZUBR.
Arrests continued that day in a different spot too. Two dozen protesters walked to the police station, where police brought Yaroslav Steshik. They waited for their friend for one hour, after which there turned up head of the Sovietsky district police station Buslo and ordered to arrest everyone, who stood by the station.
Thus, 23 people were placed in the police custody in Miroshnichenko street, 51. Among the detainees was “Vesna” human rights center activist Andrei Egorov. The riot police militiamen harshly ill-treated Yaroslav Steshik and Yuri Favbishevsky. Officer, whose nickname is Khattab, kicked them on their heads and punched them in solar plexus. The rest of the captives were charged under art.166 of the Administrative Code (insubordination to police).
Yaroslav Steshik and Yuri Favbishevsky were delivered to the Soviet district court, but the case consideration was for some reason shifted to Tuesday. In the police station the law-enforcers searched the personal stuff of the “Vesna” human rights center staffer Andrei Egorov, despite his objections.
According to the released ZUBRs, policemen behaved quite politely with the detainees until there came deputy head of the Sovietsky district police Zenevich. He started verbally abusing the detainees and cursing at them. Some other law-enforcers and riot police militiamen followed his pattern of behavior. All the detainees were set at liberty not until late in the evening, although the law allows for no more than a three-hour detention term.
On Saturday, September 10, ZUBRs returned to Kuropaty again. This time a hundred of ZUBRs lined up in front of riot police with burning candles in hands. Youth Front people were cleaning the territory and reinstalling the uprooted crosses. Later in the day the priest of the Autocephalous Orthodox church read out a public prayer at the place of gathering.
On that day even the chief riot police commander Yuri Podobed arrived at the place. ZUBR activist Darya Radkevich tried to present to him a book about Kuropaty (this was the Soviet police holiday), which described the historical significance of the site. However, Podobed simply fled away from a young and handsome lady and disappeared from view.