Belarusian democratic activists held a meeting in Minsk to discuss preparation for the demonstration to mark 95 years since the proclamation of the 1918 Belarusian National Republic (BNR). Although the anniversary is observed on March 25, the organizers decided to hold the event a day earlier, on Sunday, to attract more people.
They founded a special committee including representatives of the Belarusian People’s Front (BPF), the United Civic Party, Belarusian Christian Democracy, the Movement for Freedom, European Belarus, Belaruski Rukh and Razam and an art group called Pahonya.
Participants would gather near the Central Botanical Garden in Minsk and march to People’s Friendship Park in Bangalore Square on the outskirts of Minsk for a final rally. The organisers have already asked the administration of the Palace of Culture of Minsk Tractor Works to let them hold a concert there on March 24. On March 22, an exhibition of artworks by members of Pahonya will begin in the BPF office.
The organizing committee members are going to appeal to political leaders and other prominent figures as well as common people to join celebrations of the BNR anniversary.
The opposition does not recognise the official Independence Day July 3 (the day of liberation of the Belarusian capital from German invaders). According to them it is the March 25, 1918 that should be taken as the starting point of the Belarusian independence. The Belarusian National Republic (BNR) came into existence at the end of the First World War, when Bolshevik forces left Minsk and the city was occupied by German troops. On March 25, 1918 the Provisional government (Rada) proclaimed the independence of the BNR. After the Red Army re-entered Minsk, the Communist government replaced the Rada; its members had to emigrate. Opposition activists and civil society actors celebrate the anniversary of the proclamation of the BNR annually.