On May 26, about 100 persons took part in a rally in the centre of Brest.
Shortly before the start of the rally, the Brest police preventively detained well-known Belarusian blogger Syarhei Pyatrukhin on the basis of a flimsy pretext and took him to Leninski disctict police department, where the blogger had to spend about an hour.
For more than a year, Brest residents have been protesting against the construction and launch of the iPower battery plant in the Brest free economic zone. According to them, the facility may adversely affect the environment in the region.
Although about 40,000 persons signed the petition against the construction, the city authorities remain dismissive of the petition and the project has been completed. Every Sunday people hold peaceful protest rallies; in turn, the local police detain the participants as the city authorities outlawed the protests. Until recently, people did not make speeches or chant any slogans – they just feeded pigeons or carry baloons.
In early April, a criminal case was initiated against Maisey Mazko, an active opponent of the Ipower battery factory, allegedly for possession of ammunition. Police officers stopped and searched the car in which Mr Mazko, who works as a farm manager at a monastery, was travelling. In his company car they found objects that look like cartridges, and even a briquette of an unknown substance. The police said it was explosives. Human rights activist Raman Kislyak, who was present at the car search, said the case was being fabricated.
The battery plant near the city has been built by a Chinese corporation. The project was commissioned by the iPower company. It is planned that the plant will have a full cycle of production of lead-acid batteries.
After the launch of the hazardous battery factory, activists started collecting signatures under a new petition for the ban on the would-be production of batteries.