During yesterday’s celebration of the official independence day, police and secrete service detained more than 380 participants of the “Revolution through social network”, who were to be tried on Monday – informed Viasna human rights center information.
On July 3rd Belarusian authorities held official commemoration of 67th anniversary of liberating Minsk by the Red Army. Tanks, tractors and army units moved through the Minsk’s center in a military parade, accompanied by the president Lukashenka’s speech.
The organizers of the “Revolution through social networks” initiative decided to express its opposition towards the official celebration of the anniversary. On July 1st an action plan was posted online. But on July 2nd, the Vkontaktie.ru page which hosted the instructions, was blocked for all its users. Those who intended to participate in the action, contacted through other groups. Flayers informing about the action were distributed in Minsk.
The first part of the protests was to be held during Aleksander Lukashenka’s speech. Participants were supposed to come to the tribune as close as possible and drown out his speech by clapping. Police searched all the people who were trying to enter the military parade area. 70 people were arrested.
Surprisingly, Lukashenka has not received applause from his supporters, who feared detention, as the police informed few days earlier that they will be able to distinguish real applause from provocation.
During the second part of the protest, inhabitants of Minsk met at a square next to the train station. They clapped and stamped in protest. Police dispersed demonstration in a really brutal manner, using tear gas and beating the protesters. A hundred people were arrested, including journalists. Protesters were mostly detained by the secrete service in civilian clothing.
The final part of the protest was held at 11 pm, after the concert and fireworks finished. The protest was drowned out by the laud music coming from the scene. As soon as police noticed the clappers, they were immediately escorted out of the event. The performers has not received applause either, as the people who came to the concert did not want to be suspected of taking part in the demonstration.
The protests in Bobruysk were very peaceful, as the police tested its new strategy of ignoring the participants of the action. When people started to clap, police would turn around and retreat into the park.
More than a thousand people gathered at the main square in Mohylevo, where abrupt and brutal arrests were taking place. Few dozens people were detained, among them Barys Bukhelia – a human rights activist.
During a silent protest in Hrodna, three Belsat journalists were arrested – Andrei Fralov, Ales Dzianisav and Mikolai Diatchenia. The journalists were taken to a detention center and charged with participating in illegal action. Their court hearing was scheduled to be held on Monday. Grazyna Szalkievich, a daughter of a well-known Belarusian bard Viktor Szalkievich, was among arrested in Hrodna. On Sunday afternoon an activist of the Union of Poles in Belarus, Igor Bancer was arrested and accused of organizing illegal rally on June 28th during Andrzej Poczobut’s trial.
Protests were held in smaller towns too. In Smaliaviche, in Minsk department, many were arrested, among them 18 months old baby.
The series of protests is a result of a new initiative “Revolution through social networks”. Participants organize themselves through Facebook and it’s Russian counterpart Vkontaktie.ru, coming to main Belarusian city squares. In order to avoid arrests, they do not chant nor bring banners or flags. On Sunday, more than 300 people were arrested and scheduled to have court hearings on Mondays. So far people were charged with “minor disruptions of order”, but now according to police protocols, they are accused of taking part in illegal demonstrations.