100 national flags in Minsk: militia shocked (photo)
Activist of the civil campaign "European Belarus" hung out 100 national white-red-white flags on Independence Avenue. National flags were waving above Minsk for about an hour.
National flags appeared on the avenue near Cheluskintsev Park in the evening October 29. The flags caused real public excitement – Minsk dwellers were taking pictures of them. Militiaman and riot militiamen arrived at the site. They were ordered to find the people, who had managed to hang out flags in the city center in spite of militia patrols. Some activists of the civil campaign "Eurtopean Belarus" were arrested. It has been informed that some passers-by were also detained.
"Nasha Niva" photographer Yulia Darashkevich and photo correspondent Uladzislau Hrydzin were detained when taking pictures of the flags. As the journalist told www.charter97.org, they had been guarded to the Pershamaiski district militia department. As Radio Svaboda reports, Uladzislau Hrydzin was beaten by militiamen during the detention and on the way to the militia department. The detainees spent three hours in the militia department, the journalists were released, but "European Belarus" activists Aleh Ladutska, Nasta Askerka, and Halina Pyarvushyna were taken to a jail in Akrestsin Street. They are to stand trial today.
"European Belarus" activists timed the unprecedented action on hanging out banned national symbols to an anniversary of the first demonstration of the Belarusian opposition, held on October 30, 1988. It was the first time in many years when a national white-red-white flags was raised at a demonstration.
"European Belarus" activists fixed the flags to every pole along both sides of Independence Avenue from Luch plant to Uskhodniya cemetery. "This is a symbolic gesture, as a march to Kurapaty in 1988 started from Uskhodniya cemetery, and we will gather neat Luch plant on November 1 to start a demonstration on Dzyady Day. By this action we’d like to remind about the aims, people set 21 years ago, but haven’t gained so far. People are still persecuted for dissent, street rallies are dispersed, national symbols are banned. Much depends on the number of people taking to streets. The aim of the rally on November 1 is not only paying tribute to the memory of victims of repressions, but also a protest against ongoing political repressions in Belarus.
We call on everybody, who is not indifferent towards the events in the country, to come to Dzyady rally and join us to pay tribute to the memory of victims of repression and not to allow repressions today and tomorrow," one of the participants of the action commented on it.
We remind that the white-red-white flag is the national flag of Belarus. After the referendum, held by Lukashenka in 1995, it was replaced with neo-Soviet red-green one. Since that time, the national symbols are considered "unauthorized", people are arrested and fined for using them.