Police Disperses Social Protest March “Can’t Live Like That Anymore!” 11:24, 19/04/2002
Over a hundred were arrested and beaten up by POLICE in central Minsk during the social action “Can’t Live Like That Anymore!”. Among the VICTIMS – WORLD-KNOWN FILMMAKER Yuri Khaschevatsky, professor Mikola Savitsky, journalist Valery Schukin, Charter’97 journalist Natalya Radina. The latter reports from the Sovietsky police station that 102 protesters are still being beaten by police in custody. Two people were carried away on ambulance with broken ribs and brain concussion.
The Protest March CAN’T LIVE LIKE THAT ANYMORE! started at 6p.m. on the Yakub Kolas square. While the crowds were coming, the organizers were talking in loudspeakers, shouting down police, which demanded that the dissenters disperse. The organizers mentioned the problems, facing Belarusians nowadays – total impoverishment, crackdown on the freedom of speech and assemblies. However, police, having obtained extra capacity, managed to silence the spontaneous speeches twenty minutes after the start of the action.
At seeing that, the action organizers offered the people to walk towards the specially marked place for the meeting – the Bangalor square. They suggested an unusual route – via the Minsk downtown in order to attract public attention. The March’s participants unanimously voted for that and a one thousand strong procession marched in the direction of the central Minsk. However, they didn’t walk too far – at the intersection between the Skarina prospect and Kozlova street their way was blocked by camouflaged police cordons.
At facing the cordon, the crowd turned back, manifesting the non-violent and peaceful character of their action. But it seems like the decision to break the protest, whose participants demanded the reimbursement of lost bank deposits and rise of salaries, stipends and pensions, had already been taken by then. Out of the buses there came dozens of law-enforcers in gray uniforms and attacked the protesters. There were a few cops per one protester. The people sat down on the pavement, unwilling to move. Police started beating with truncheons their bare hands and dragging them into the bus.
They beat people with legs and police clubs. Valery Schukin passed out from heavy beating and was lying unconscious on the ground until the ambulance picked him up.
All detainees were taken to the Sovietsky police station. 102 people – such a figure was mentioned by our press-center’s journalist Natalya Radina. Inside the station there continue the beatings. Two persons were hospitalized with the brain concussion and broken ribcages.
Social slogans “CAN’T LIVE LIKE THAT!” were thrown on the pavement and trampled by police boots.