Minsk authorities fail to authorise Freedom Day events, cite COVID-19 pandemic as reason

Дзень Волі-2017. Фота: journalby.com

The organisers of the celebrating the 103rd anniversary of the proclamation of the Belarusian People’s Republic in Minsk got a refusal from the local police, RFE/RL reports.

The Belarusian Social Democratic Party, the movement For Freedom and the Belarusian People’s Front (BPF), asked Minsk City Executive Committee for permission to hold a marchand a rally on Belarusians’ unofficial Freedom Day. The opposition activists filed the application to the city authorities on March, 9.

On the same day, KGB chairman Ivan Tsertsel said that ‘specific individuals were about to destabilise the situation in the country on 25-27 March.

According to BPF Chairman Ryhor Kastusiou, the city authorities put down their refusal to the coronavirus pandemic and ‘calls from extremist Telegram channels’ to take to the streets. The Minsk police considered would-be staging a mass event impossible.

KGB chairman: ‘Some individuals’ set to destabilise situation in Belarus on unofficial Freedom Day

There is no time left to appeal against the decision in court, Kastusiou added.

Freedom Day (Dzień Voli) is celebrated on March 25 to commemorate the creation on that date in 1918 of the Belarusian People’s Republic (BNR). It came into existence at the end of the First World War, when Bolshevik forces left Minsk and the city was occupied by German troops. On March 25, 1918 the Provisional Government (Rada) proclaimed the independence of the BNR. After the Red Army re-entered Minsk, the Communist government replaced the Rada; its members had to emigrate. Alyaksandr Lukashenka, his coterie and subordinates deny Freedom Day and keep barring the opposition forces from celebrating it.

In late February, opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya urged Belarusians to ‘prepare for Freedom Day’, i.e. to mobilise ‘the spirit of protest’, build safe communities, plan to return to the streets of their own cities.

Last week, Pavel Latushka, Head of the People’s Anti-Crisis Administration (PACA) and a former state official, called on ‘all Belarusians whose hearts need change’ to take to the streets on Freedom Day.

Tsikhanouskaya’s aide: Large-scale protests to be back again