On January 31, Minsk resident Alyaksandr Maibarada was detained by officers of Leninski District Department of Internal Affairs.
The reason for Alyaksandr Maibarada’s detention was an A4 sheet if paper in the middle of which a red stripe was drawn. Placed on the balcony, the sheet in the colours of the Belarusian historical flag caught the eye of the policemen who drew up a report upon Alyaksandr Maibarada for ‘violating rules of holding mass event’ (Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences). In the document, they made mention of ‘a white-red-white 30×40 cm sheet hanging on the window’.
Then the man was put in the notorious detention centre on Akrestsin Street, where he had a heart attack. An ambulance took him to hospital, human rights centre Viasna reports.
On February 24, Maibarada was summoned to Leninski district court of Minsk. According to Alyaksandr, in late January, the precinct officers asked any adult from their family to appear at the police department: they did not even care which of his family members would come, they were committed to detaining and punishing any of them.
Although there were many mistakes in the case file, judge Maryna Klimchuk did not take them into account and sentenced the man to 15 days of administrative arrest.
As reported earlier, the Belarusian Prosecutor General’s Office is preparing necessary documents with a view to recognising the white-red-white flag as ‘extremist’.
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 said that those Belarusian citizens who would hang out ‘unregistered symbols’ even on their windows or balconies might be penalised under administrative law.