A military parade in front of the Minsk Hero City stele has opened the public celebration in the capital of Belarus. More than 4,000 servicemen and about 200 fighting equipment units are involved in the parade.
Then a sports march “The Olympic carnival” is scheduled. Open air celebrations are also expected to take place near the Sports Palace and in Victory Park. Gala concert “Belarus is in my heart” starts at 9.p.m., a 30-gun holiday salute being fired at 23 p.m. not far from of the stele.
The official Independence day is celebrated on July 3, on the day of liberation of the Belarusian capital from German invaders. Such decision was taken by the republican referendum held in 1996. Earlier the Independence day had been commemorated on July 27, its celebration being coincided with the day of passing the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1990.
The opposition does not recognise the official Independence Day. According to them it is the March 25, 1918 that should be taken as the starting point of the Belarusian independence. On March 25, 1918 the Provisional government (Rada) proclaimed the independence of the Belarusian National Republic that came into existence at the end of the First World War, when Bolshevik forces left Minsk and the city was occupied by German troops. 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.