Hundreds of riot militia officers armed with batons were thrown against peaceful Belarusians, who came to celebrate Freedom Day. People weren’t allowed to go the city centre.
One of the organisers of the rally, a deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front party Viktar Ivashkevich, called upon participants of the rally to disband. People started to break up. However, about 500 participants are still left near the Independence Avenue. They chant “Long live Belarus!” and are holding national flags. However, it is clear that the rally on Freedom Day is coming to an end.
People continue standing along the road. They are singing the national hymn “Mighty God”. Dozens of traffic policemen are standing along the road opposite people with flags.
The cars driving by are honking. People hold posters “Freedom for Belarus!” “Minsk is alive, but regions are dying”, “BT Telling Lie!”, “Yana Palyakova is Victim of Lukashenka’s Regime”, “I'd Like to Serve, but not to be a Servant” and others. Some demonstrators hold “Narodnaya Volya” newspaper, which printed an article on the front page about proclamation of the Belarusian National Republic 91 years ago.
And now participants of the demonstration are standing along Independence Avenue, mostly positioning near the Academy of Sciences. Near the traffic area on the both sides of the avenue several thousands of people with white-red-white flags are standing. They scan: “Long live Belarus!”, “Independence!” Portraits of Lukashenka are thrown on the grounds. People who walk along the avenue are trampling on the portraits. Some of them simply set the portraits on fire.
Youth leaders Yauhen Afnahel and Artur Finkevich called on Belarusians not to believe provocations of the authorities. According to them, actions of at least 200 militia officers, who blocked the way and didn’t allow people to go, demonstrate what “liberalization” in being carried out in the country. “We will mark Freedom Day in a peaceful way, we will walk down Independence Avenue.” With these words, the column of demonstrators turned round and moved to the Academy of Sciences, the leaders stepped out into the road.
More than a hundred of riot policemen with truncheons, in army boots and helmets are standings in front of the column of people with white-red-white flags. The both sides are still inactive.
Dozens of riot militiamen blocked the way for a column of demonstrators, which has moved to October square, at the intersection with Pyatrus Brouka Street.
At that moment people who were left near the Academy of Science, form a chain along the road. They hold national flags and streamers “Freedom to political prisoners!”, “Freedom Day”, “Belarus to Europe” and others. Part of people moved towards the National Library.
About a thousand people, activists of the civil campaign “European Belarus”, “Young Front”, and “Young Belarus”, are walking along Independence Avenue. They are carrying a banner “Freedom to Political prisoners!”, chanting “Independence!” and “No Unions with Imperial Russia!”
Part of participants of the rally headed towards October Square. The column consists of about a thousand people, mostly youth organizations’ activists. They chant: “Lukashenka must resign!” and carry a huge streamer “Freedom Day”.
Deputy head of the BPF party Viktar Ivashkevich called on participates of the meeting to form a human chain along Independence Avenue in the direction of the National Library and stand with posters in hands for an hour.
Opposition leaders address the people near the Academy of Sciences. Lyavon Barshcheuski held an improvised voting. Participants of the rally were asked: “Who supports this regime?” A dead silence ensued on the square. And then the slogan “Long live Belarus!” echoed around. Several thousands of people have gathered near the Academy of Science.
Leader of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Andrei Sannikov, former chairman of the Supreme Council of Belarus Stanislau Shushkevich, BPF party leaders Lyavon Barshcheuski, Viktar Ivashkevich, and Vintsuk VByachorka, leader of the Social Democratic Party (Narodnaya Hramada) Mikola Statkevich, coordinator of Charter’97 Zmitser Bandarenka, activists of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Zmitser Barodka, Yauhen Afnahel, Paval Yukhnevich, co-head of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Paval Sevyarynets, leader of the “Young Front” Zmitser Dashkevich, leader of the “Young Belarus” Artur Finkevich, People’s artist Zinaida Bandarenka, deputy head of the United Civil Party Lyudmila Hraznova, People’s poet of Belarus Henadz Buraukin, popular playwright Uladzimir Khalip, and other fampus people are taking part in the demonstration.
Music can be heard at the meeting – song “I was Born Here”, known well among Belarusian patriots. People are in an expansive mood. About 200 national and European flags are waving.
More and more people arrive. Sound-amplifying equipment is being installed. As the Charter’97 press-centre has been informed by the deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front party Viktar Ivashkevich, the car with loudspeaker equipment was stopped by traffic policemen on its way to the rally, but after a short dispute the car was allowed to go.
As deputy head of the BPF party Vintsuk Vyachorka said, a car with loudhailers was detained on the way to the demonstration.
Representatives of the embassies of the EU states and the US are watching the action.
The number of people on the spot near the Academy of Science is growing. More than a thousand of people are there. Protestors chant “Long live Belarus!” The number of national and European flags is several dozens. A large white-red-white flag and a huge streamer “European Belarus” have been unfurled.
As it has become known, “Young Front” activists Anastasiya Palazhanka and Dzyanis Karnou were detained before the rally. “Young Front” activist Zmitser Yasevich was caught, too. He was detained on his way to the rally and pushed into a car; a national flag and a banner were thrown out of the car. Activists of the civil campaign “European Belarus” and “Young Front” have also been searched. The young people were seized national symbols.
About a thousand of people have already gathered near the Academy of Science. Many white-red-white flags and flags of the European Union are fluttering in the wind. People are still arriving. Unlike previous rallies, the metro station “The Academy of Science” is not closed, and city land transport stops there. Leaders of the Belarusian Popular Front party, Lyavon Barshcheuski and Viktar Ivashkevich, are at the place.