The Belarusian authorities equated the red stripe painted on a garage with holding an unauthorised picket, human rights centre Viasna reports on Telegram.
On March 19, local resident Syarhei Tur was summoned to Valozhyn district police department, where the officers drew a protocol upon him under Art. 24.23 of the Code of Administrative Offences (‘violation of the order of organising or holding mass events’) for allegedly holding a picket in the form of… a garage painted in white-red-white colours. Then the man was released, but after a while the policemen detained Syarhei Tur when the latter was visiting a medical centre.
On that day, Syarhei called his wife from the police and said that the hearing of his case would take place on Monday, but his wife could not get into the courtroom as the trial was actually held behind closed doors. The court arrested the man for 15 days.
In addition, municipal workers came to Tur’s place after the trial and covered the vaunted red stripe with gray paint. According to them, it was for free, as they ‘just helped a multi-child family’.
Syarhei Tur is the father of three kids (2, 4, 8 years old. Notably, on the back of the situation, the man was immediately fired, his wife said.
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 48 thousand signatures.