One year after Square: Brutal crackdown and mass arrests again - photo
The authorities fear even a symbolic reminder about the events of December 19, 2010.
On December 19 two dozens of buses and cars with special forces, and four paddy wagons were parked near the Great Patriotic War museum and behind the Palace of Republic. There were large numbers of law enforcers in mufti on October Square and Independence Avenue, while policemen in uniform searched passengers who left metro stations.
However, in different places of the avenue groups of concerned people were visible – some of them were carrying candles, flowers and national symbols.
At 7 p.m. about two dozens of people placed burning candles near the statue of archangel Michael near the Red Church. On the place of the prayer service participants unfurled portraits of political prisoners and started to chant "Freedom to political prisoners!" and "Long live Belarus!" People in mufti immediately ganged up on the protesters, about a dozen of them were dragged into the minibuses. Cries were heard behind the Red Church. It is possible that arrests there were more brutal.
Despite the arrests, the number of people protesting near the Red Church in Independence Square reached 200. However, people were disbanded and arrested again. Today’s detentions, Nasha Niva writes, were extremely brutal. People were dragged along stairs, hit on the head.
In Nyamiha Street in Minsk a public activist Alyaksandr Artsybashau and a few more persons were detained. They wanted to fly Chinese lanterns, and in such a way mark the anniversary of the protest disband on the Square.
Former political prisoners Vasil Parfyankou and Mikita Likhavid with his mother were detained on October Square. They came up to one of the kiosks with hot drinks and pies, and 'tikhari' (security officers in plainclothes) immediately seized them and started to drag into paddy wagons which stood behind the Palace of Trade Unions.
Near 'Vasilki' restaurant, which is situated in front of the KGB headquarters, the chief of Minsk police Alyaksandr Barsukou personally searched bags, parcels of passers-by who were walking along the Independence Avenue.
Near the building of the Great Patriotic War museum the unknown in mufti stroke down to the ground several young men and took them behind the kiosks. In a few minutes a minibus without number plates pulled away from that place.
However, three fireworks were lit in front of the Academy of Science in honour of the political prisoners…
A symbolic rally "Light a candle of hope" was planned in memory of December 19, 2010 events at 7-8 p.m. from the Academy of Science to Independence Square.
"On December 19, 2010 light went out in our country. We lived in darkness for a year. Some people tried to see the sky through the prison bars, others were standing near prisons on dark winter mornings in order to find out any information about their relatives", the address disseminated in social networks reads.
"Let everyone light a candle, where it is convenient for you: near a road, on the stairs of a shop, a cinema. Let us light not only Minsk, but central streets of other cities of our country", the organisers of the rally declared.
Though the intentions of the rally organisers were completely peaceful, law-enforcers started to concentrate in the centre of Minsk long before the beginning of the protest.
Since morning preventive arrests of opposition activists started in Minsk and in other cities of Belarus. Independent media report about at least 50 people detained.