Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Minsk Government Bans March through City Center on BNR Anniversary

The Minsk City Executive Committee has denied permission for an opposition march on March 25, the 92nd anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of the 1918 Belarusian National Republic, to go through the center of the city from the National Academy of Sciences to Yanka Kupala Park, as the organizers planned.

Like in previous years, the city government has suggested that the demonstrators march from the square in front of the Academy Sciences to Peoples' Friendship Park in Bangalore Square and hold a rally there, Viktar Ivashkevich of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF) told BelaPAN on Friday.

The organizers of the Dzen Voli (Fredom Day) demonstration to be staged on March 25 would reject any proposals by the city authorities to march to Bangalore Square on the outskirts of the city, BPF Chairman Alyaksey Yanukevich told reporters in Minsk on the previous day.

If the Minsk government suggests the usual route that ends in Bangalore Square, "we’ll gather near the Academy of Sciences and then decide what to do depending on the number of participants," Mr. Yanukevich said. "If, like before, riot police cordons block our path, we'll act according to the situation."

The demonstration is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

About 2,000 people took part in last year’s Dzen Voli demonstration in Minsk. Demonstrators dispersed after riot police prevented them from marching along Independence Avenue, Minsk’s main thoroughfare. No arrests were reported during or after the demonstration.

Dozens of people were beaten up and arrested during a similar demonstration in 2008 as participants attempted to walk down Independence Avenue. Twenty-six people were given jail sentences ranging from three to 15 days and 50 more were sentenced to fines on charges of acting in violation of regulations governing "mass events."