On March 9, six persons were tried in the town of Pinsk over the matter of taking a photo in Luninets district on the eve of Belarusian Police Day. They were sentenced to administrative arrest.
In the photo, one can see a group of people holding white-red-white flags and a banner with the ironic greeting dedicated to the police. The Belarusian authorities considered the gathering to be an ‘unauthorised mass event’ and detained six participants.
On Tuesday, Vyachaslau Stoharau, Syarhei Budkevich, Dzmitry Laryionau, Alyaksandr Lyavoshka, Dzyanis Syadykh got a 15-day prison term each; Syarhei Stsepanyuk was sentenced to 10 days in jail. Notably, Syadykh is a single father of a minor, and Stsepanyuk has a disability.
In 1991, the white-red-white flag and the emblem Pahonya (Pursuit) were adopted as national symbols of the country. However, they were official until the 1995 referendum, when on the tip from Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who is an ardent adherer of the USSR, they were replaced by the Soviet ones. For years, pro-Lukashenka officials have been linking the white-red-white colours to the opposition. Last December, the authorities warned that those Belarusian citizens who would hang out ‘unregistered symbols’ even on their windows or balconies might be penalised under administrative law.
In late February, Belarusians launched a petition for adding the white-red-white flag to the emoji bank as an alternative to the state flag of Belarus: it has already collected over 47 thousand signatures.