On Monday, Belarusian activist and entrepreneur Pavel Belavus has not been released from the police station. He came there at 11 am after being summoned.
It is known that he will be taken to the infamous detention centre on Akrestsin Street in Minsk. The reasons for Pavel’s being detained are still unclear. He has two small children.
Pavel Belavus is the creator and former owner of symbal.by, an iconic store selling clothes, books, souvenirs, national symbols in white-red-white colours. He is also one of the founders of the creative venue Art Syadziba; its main goal was to promote the Belarusian language and culture among young people.
In 2020, Symbal.by got on the wrong side of the authorities due to the owners’ and workers’ civic-mindedness. In June, over 400 T-shirts were seized from the courier of the store by the Minsk police. The then inspections found some ‘violations’ at the store and a document on termination of production was issued, while the police took away nine white-red-white flags. Tax and anti-fraud agencies checked the store; utility services were refusing to turn on the electricity at the store for a week.
On 30 January 2021, officers of the Financial Investigations Department raided the store in Minsk; they detained employees Mikita Brouka, Kseniya Miklasheuskaya, Volha Ihnatava, Anastasiya Trafimchyk. Later, Brouka and Miklasheuskaya were sentenced to 20 days of administrative arrest each.
In March, both permanent and online Symbal.by shops were ultimately shut down for an indefinite period. According to Pavel Belavus, the firm was ‘killed’, but the team hopes that one day ‘it comes to life again’. The company’s website informed that all the things that had happened to them resulted in their inability to rent premises for further business activity as well as maintain the staff.