Minsk: Soundmen get 10-day jail term for protest song ‘We Long For Change’ at official event

Tsentralny district court of Minsk. Photo: Belsat.eu

Sound managers Kiryl Halanau and Uladzislau Sakalouski, who played Russian performer Victor Tsoi’s iconic song Peremen! (We Long For Change) during Thursday’s event staged by the city authorities, have been sentenced to 10 days in jail each.

On August 6, several thousand Minskers gathered in Kyiv Garden in Minsk to express solidarity with presidential candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

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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.

The audience gave an ovation to legengary song Peremen! (Change!); it was uexpectedly switched on 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 Sakalouski, 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 famous Russian rock star’s song which has long been an anthem of вшыышвуте шт post-Soviet сщгтекшуы. The both had white bands – one of the symbols of this year’s protest – on their hands.

Uladzislau Sakalouski and Kiryl Halanau. Photo: Alisa Hanchar / Belsat.eu

Dzmitry Pyatrusha, Head of Tsentralny district administration of Minsk, blamed the men for thwarting the event and called the police. In turn, the audience chanted: “Good job!”

Halanau and Sakalouski were charged under Art. 17.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (petty hooliganism) and Art. 23.4 (disobedience to the police). The DJs were accused of ‘deliberately disrupting the event’ and ‘failure to obey when being detained’.

Now the two men are being held in a detention facility in Minsk. They were tried remotely in Tsentralny district court. Notorious judge Viktoryia Shabunya who repeatedly passed verdicts on political activists is known to have considered Halanau’s case. According to Halanau, they did not thwart the event as Peramen! was played after the official concert.

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