The activists of the Belarusian National Remembrance (BNR) made an attempt to support the national team unfurling a huge national white-red-white flag at the Belarus-Slovenia hockey game in Sweden. But the security guards demanded to take the flag away and kicked Anatol Mikhnavets, the Head of the BNR, out of the arena.
According to the guards, “a big cloth is against the Championship’s safety rules”. However, as they failed to indicate a corresponding paragraph in the rules smaller flags remained on the terracings, Anatol Mikhnavets said..
Yauhen Vorsin, the head of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation, said earlier that there were black people among “inadequate people with white-red-white flags” who were paid for their activity on the arena.
“I don’t know what officials from the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation told them. I spoke to Vorsin and he called the white-read-white flag a dust cloth. I said I would meet with journalists and cite his words. He didn’t object. He didn’t know that the Pahonia (Chase) coat of arms was on the Belarusian national heritage list,” Сharter97.org quotes Mr Mikhnavets as saying.
“The flag that is not the official flag of Belarus, it represents a different regime. This was interpreted as a political message. According to the rules we have to follow, it should not be any political messages inside the arena,” Tony Wiréhn, General Secretary of the Swedish 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship organizing committee, explains the decision.
“The [white-red-white] flag of Belarus was outlawed by dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka. Now it has been banned by the organisers of the World Championship,” Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reports.
Some Swedish PMs have expressed deep concern over the incident. “The organisers have attacked the independent flaged shown to Lukashenka by freedom fighters, but organising the next Championship in Belarus is no problem for them. It is a great shame if it’s latest news,” Christian Holm posted on his Facebook.
According to Swedish journalist Isabel Sommerfeld, the incident with a flag was discrimination of Belarusian fans and violation of the IIHF Statute (Article 8). “Sweden deserves pity because the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation kneels before the dictator… What about human rights then?” the journalist wrote on her Facebook account.
After the 1995 referendum the white-red-white flag is used as a symbol of the opposition to the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka, most notably at the protests after the 2006 and 2010 presidential elections.