12 December 2019, Thursday, 1:25
The Wait Is Nearly Over

Statement By Charnobylski Shliakh Organizers

Statement By Charnobylski Shliakh Organizers

The event organizers refuse to pay the police.

The Charter97.org website publishes the statement of the Charnobylski Shliakh (Chernobyl Way) Organizing Committee of April 25, 2019:

1. We inform that the Organizing Committee decided to withdraw the application for holding the street event, Charnobylski Shliakh, along the traditional route along Surhanau street to the Chernobyl chapel with the gathering of participants at 18.00 near the main entrance to the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences, the permission to hold which was issued by the Minsk City Executive Committee. The applicants disclaim responsibility for the conduct of this street event, authorized by the authorities, about what the Minsk City Executive Committee has been informed in writing today.

2. The reason for our decision was the demand of the Minsk City Executive Committee (with reference to the practice in relation to Freedom Day, as well as to the Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 49 and the second paragraph of the Law “On Amendments and Additions to the Law “On Mass Events” of the Republic of Belarus) to pay the police for its law enforcement services. The amount charged from the organizers by the Minsk city Directorate of Internal Affairs is 5,735 Belarusian rubles. Our proposal on maintaining order using our own resources, as we used to do it all the previous 30 years, has not been satisfied.

3. The official applicants of Charnobylski Shliakh cannot ignore in any form the demands to pay for the police services, since this amount will be forcibly recovered, and this has been demonstrated by the example of Freedom Day.

4. We categorically do not accept the charging of fees for Charnobylski Shliakh, as well as for other mass events with a protest agenda, because:

– we have already paid for these services as taxpayers; the state is obliged to finance these expenses from the state budget;

– we consider the mentioned normative acts and this practice as levers of state pressure on protest mass events, which thus makes any protest, any public activity of citizens not possible and illegal; we remind that events that are organized by government entities are exempt from payment.

– Charnobylski Shliakh, as an event with a protest agenda should not enter into economic relations with the security forces; protest is not a made-to-order commercial performance, but the will of citizens, to whom the Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression;

– as we noted in our statement of April 22, Charnobylski Shliakh is also a traditional mourning event, a tribute to the victims; the state must not sell its citizens the memory of this catastrophe!

– Charnobylski Shliakh as an exclusively peaceful march does not need the protection of the police; on the contrary, in Belarus, the police often pose a threat to its participants;

We believe that the authorities radicalize the protest activity of citizens by their actions. We declare that the Organizing Committee of the Charnobylski Shliakh - 2019, was organizing an authorized street rally, the blame for its abolition we place on the authorities. We are not responsible to the authorities for any other actions of citizens in expressing their opinions.

We remind that Charnobylski Shliakh 2019 was prepared with the requirements of canceling the construction of the Astravets NPP as threatening national sovereignty and security, as well as the requirements to ensure adequate protection of citizens from the consequences of the Chernobyl NPP accident. In one way or another, we will put forward these demands and bring in this issue at different levels.

In addition, we have already launched a public campaign to cancel the Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 49 and the corresponding paragraph of the Law on Mass Events in Belarus.

Despite all the obstacles on the part of the authorities, the anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy in 2019 is marked by events organized by public organizations and activists included in the Charnobylski Shliakh Organizing Committee. In this vein, the Belarusian greens and environmentalists organize the Chernobyl Week. In addition, on April 26, activists are planning to lay flowers at the Chernobyl Chapel. Activists are planning other events. The memory of Chernobyl is alive! The fight for a safe future for the Belarusians will continue.