‘Direct threat to independence’: Protests against Russia-Belarus war game

While the viewers were assessing the gains of the Belarusian industry during yesterday’s parade, several hundred people joined the protest rally ‘For A Peaceful Belarus’ initiated by former political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich.

The protesters marched along downtown Minsk – from Kastrychnitskaya to Independence Square. No one was arrested; the police did not draw protocols upon the participants either. In the run-up of the PA OSCE meeting in Minsk, the Belarusian authorities might have ordered them not to detain opposition activists.

The protesters demanded the cancellation of the joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise ‘West-2017’ and criticized the regime’s wasting money on the parade during the economic crisis.

Although the rally was not sizable, Statkevich praised its effect. According to him, people showed that Independence Day did not belong exclusively to the authorities.

Statkevich is set to continue the protest movement against the war game in September. A number of military officials of NATO and Ukraine, over 3,000 Russian soldiers are unlikely to go home after taking part in the maneuvers. Democratic forces consider ‘West-2017’ as a direct threat to the independence of Belarus.

The official Independence day is celebrated on July 3, on the day of liberation of the Belarusian capital from German invaders. Such decision was taken by the republican referendum held in1996. Earlier the Independence day had been commemorated on July 27, its celebration being coincided with the day of passing the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1990.


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