The Belarusian Prosecutor General’s Office is preparing necessary documents with a view to recognising the white-red-white flag as ‘extremist’.
On January 29, it became known that the agency started the ball rolling after receiving an appeal from a hundred ‘unindifferent citizens’ who had asked to outlaw the symbols in white and red colours.
On the same day, the opposition Coordination Council (CC) made a petition condemning the Belarusian authorities’ intention.
“We believe that the ban on the use of white-red-white symbols is unfounded; it is fuelled only by exerting political pressure on citizens who are far apart on the incumbent authorities’ line. We think that citizens should have the opportunity to apply to government agencies and demand the recognition of certain companies, individuals, colours as extremist. But we know for sure that the ban on white-red-white symbols is not a wish of the entire nation, but a whim of some hundred persons,” the CC representatives stress.
The Coordination Council is calling on Belarusian to sign the petition in order to prove that there are far more those speaking in support of the white-red-white flag than 100. As of 3.30 pm (Minsk time) on Saturday, there have been more than 25,800 signatures collected.
According to Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, blacklisting the protest symbols will not change anything in people’s minds.
“Belarusians do consider him [Lukashenka] their president anymore. All he can do now is to get the people’s support imitated and fight against the symbols of freedom. In essence, the regime is afraid of the two colours being combined. But by outlawing national symbols and appropriating state ones for himself, he only popularises the white-red-white flag. After all, it is becoming a symbol of justice, honour and unity,” she said.
On Saturday morning, a number of Minskers residing in bedroom communinties in the east of the capital city held a march, protesting against declaring the white-red-white flag 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.