The organizers of this year’s March 25 Dzen Voli (Freedom Day) demonstration have applied to Minsk city authorities for permission to march along Independence Avenue and hold a rally in Independence Square, Aliaksei Yanukevich, leader of the Belarusian People’s Front (BPF), said.
The demonstrators would gather in the square in front of the National Academy of Sciences at 6 pm., march along Independence Avenue and hold the final rally in Independence Square between 7:30 pm and 8 pm.
The application was signed by representatives of the BPF, the Movement for Freedom, the Young Christian Democrats, the United Civic Party, the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party and the Rada (Council) of the Belarusian Intellectuals.
Mr Yanukevich earlier said that the Freedom Day demonstration would be a show of solidarity with Ukraine and a protest against Russia’s invasion of that country. He said that the demonstrators would also call for the protection of Belarus’ economic and political independence and for integration into Europe.
As a rule, the Minsk city government does not allow opposition organizations to stage marches through the centre of Minsk. Dzen Voli demonstrations usually start in the square in front of the National Academy of Sciences and end in remote Peoples’ Friendship Park in Bangalore Square, where local residents walk their dogs.
Freedom Day is an unofficial holiday in Belarus, which is celebrated on March 25 to commemorate the creation on that date in 1918 of the Belarusian National Republic (BNR). It 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.
The current regime denies Freedom Day and often prevents the opposition forces from celebrating it. This year the authorities have prohibited using of unofficial national symbols (white-red-white flag and national emblem Pahonia) during the event.