Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Zakhar SHCHARBAKOW, Naviny.by

An estimated 2,000 people attended a rally that crowned Tuesday's "Dzen Voli" (Freedom Day) demonstration in Minsk, BelaPAN said.

The sanctioned event was staged to mark the 96th anniversary of the proclamation of the Belarusian National Republic (BNR).

When the demonstrators reached Peoples' Friendship Park after marching along Independence Avenue and Surhanava Streets, they found the venue of the rally fenced off by metal railings and had to walk through metal detector gates to join the rally.

There were only four metal detector gates and few people had entered the venue by 7:30 p.m., the time when the rally was scheduled to begin.

As the disgruntled demonstrators continued slowly trickling in through the gates, Vital Rymashewski, co-chairman of Belarusian Christian Democracy, speaking through a megaphone, accused the police of trying to disrupt the event and suggested that the rally be held closer to the gates, so that people both outside and inside the venue could hear the speakers.

The rally began at 8 p.m., the time when it was officially scheduled to end, with a minute's silence in honor of people killed in anti-government protests in Kyiv that was followed by chants of "Slava Ukraini!" (Glory to Ukraine!) and "Zhyve Belarus!" (Long Live Belarus).

Ales Lahvinets, deputy chairperson of the Movement for Freedom, thanked the crowd and warned of Russia's "imperial ambitions." "Our country needs a European, democratic choice," he said. He read out an appeal by Ivonka Survilla, the Canadian-based president of the government in exile of the Belarusian National Republic.

Alyaksey Yanukevich, leader of the Belarusian Popular Front, echoed the remarks, saying that Belarus and Ukraine had a shared enemy in "Russian imperialism." "An imperial regime that craves for the restoration of a bloody empire is in the Kremlin. Today we took to the streets to say that Belarus is an independent country. The Belarusians will never agree to any annexation. Our choice is independence," he said, urging Minsk to quit the Customs Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and other Moscow-led blocs.

Paval Sevyarynets, co-chairman of Belarusian Christian Democracy and a former political prisoner, called for resolute efforts to fight for independence and called for boycotting Russian and Belarusian government-controlled television channels.

The rally was wrapped up after Mr. Sevyarynets' speech and the crowd started dispersing.

Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: TUT.BY


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: TUT.BY


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: TUT.BY


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: TUT.BY


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: nn.by


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: RFE/RL


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: Uladzimir Chudziantsou, BY24.ORG



Video: Uladzimir Chudziantsou, BY24.ORG


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: RFE/RL


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: RFE/RL


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: RFE/RL


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: RFE/RL


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: RFE/RL


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: RFE/RL


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: RFE/RL


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: RFE/RL


Some 2,000 people attend Freedom Day rally (photo, video)

Photo: RFE/RL