On Thursday evening, several thousand Minskers gathered in Kyiv Garden in Minsk to express solidarity with presidential candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya. A few hours earlier, her campaign office had to cancel the pre-election rally in the Peoples’ Friendship Park that was scheduled for 5 am on August, 6.
Tsikhanouskaya’s team filed an application for staging a rally in the Peoples’ Friendship Park which is reserved for pre-election campaigning as far back as mid July, but on August 3, the authorities of Savetski district of Minsk announced their intention to organise celebrations on occasion of Railway Troops’ Day at the same venue and time.
As a result, the representatives of the united election teams’ headquarters (Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Maryia Kalesnikava and Veranika Tsapkala) decided to visit a state-arranged educational event in Kyiv Garden at 7 pm.
Instead of Tsikhanouskaya’s rally, a demonstration of military construction equipment took place in the Peoples’ Friendship Park. Cynologists took service dogs to the event; the attenders had an opportunity to taste army millet and listen to the bands performing Soviet and military patriotic songs. The riot police were keeping watch and ward over the event. Dozens of paddy wagons and ambulance cars were parked nearby. According to the city authorities, the number of participants reached 450 persons; most of them were cadets and young people carrying red flags of the Communist Party.
Tsikhanovskaya’s supporters who came to the Peoples’ Friendship Park, were redirected to Kyiv Garden. At about 6 pm, several thousand people gathered there. Many had white-red-white flags in their hands and chanted “We believe, we can, we will win”, “Lukashenka, step down!”, “Long live Belarus” and other slogans.
The audience gave an ovation to Victor Tsoi‘s legengary song Peremen! (Change!); it was uexpectedly turned on for all to hear by two employees of the Palace of Children and Youth, Uladzislau Sakalouski and Kiryl Halanau.
The officials made a number of nervous attempts to turn off the song. According to Uladzislau, they were forced to work at the state-run event, but as persons who want change, they were willing to show their support for the meeting with the help of the Russian rock star’s song which has long become an anthem of post-Soviet protesters.
The representative of Tsentralny district administration of Minsk accused the men of thwarting the event and called the police. In turn, the audience chanted: “Good job!”
Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Veranika Tsapkala and Maryia Kalesnikava got to Kyiv Garden separately. However, the trio decided against delivering speeches in order to avoid incidents and provocations.
Most of participants started to leaver around 9 pm, but several hundred people were staying there for a little while longer. On Thursday’s evening Kyiv Garden was surrounded by special forces, police vans and paddy wagons. At the end of the meeting, it became known that the two sound managers who staged a ‘musical intervention’ were detained.
Halina Abakunchyk/MS, belsat.eu