Independence Day in Belarusian style: Businessman arrested for prayer, white-red-white flag

On Sunday evening Aliaksandr Makayeu, a leader of the entrepreneurs’ movement, was detained in Minsk, Yuliya Stsiapanava, a European Belarus civil campaign activist, said on Facebook.

‘During a prayer for the political prisoners Makayeu was holding a national white-red-white flag to mark the Independence Day. After the prayer finished, he was grabbed [by police] on the way to his car.’ Aliaksandr Makayeu is to appear before court today.

The prayer for the Belarusian political prisoners took place near St. Simon and Alena Cathedral in Independence Square.


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.

On September 19, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus adopted emblem Pahonia (Pursuit ) and the white-red-white flag as state symbols of our country. But the situation changed in 1995, when the head of state initiated a referendum resulting in introducing new symbols in the Soviet-like style.

After the 1995 referendum the white-red-white flag has been often associated with the opposition to the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka. The flag is not officially banned from public usage, but is treated by the authorities as an unregistered symbol which means that demonstration of it by political activists or sports fans can lead to arrests and confiscation of the flags.

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