Brest: Silent protests against hazardous plant

Another rally was held in Brest on Sunday: protesting against the launch of a hazardous battery factory, about 200 people took to the central streets. In addition, activists started collecting signatures under a new petition for the ban on the would-be production of batteries.

The corresponding appeal is expected to be filed to the presidential administration.

Participants say:

“The authorities are aware of the situation, they are monitoring it; it is the very top that gives orders to exert pressure on the initiative group, on activists – perhaps, they are set to put down the protest in the run-up to the European Games.”

“We just want to live in a normal, clean city and they want to destroy us. The authorities seem to be giving us such ‘present’ for the 1000th anniversary of the city.”

No one was detained during Sunday’s rally; however, the police drew a protocol upon independent journalists Ales Lyauchuk and Milana Kharytonava who were covering the protest.

Over a year ago, Brest residents started protesting against the construction of a hazardous battery factory by the iPower company. Although Brest residents collected almost 40,000 signatures 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 in the free economic zone Brest 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.

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