Mother of five gets hefty fine, spends three days in jail over showing white-red-white flag

White-red-white flag in Dana Mall. Minsk, 14 January 2021. Photo:

Minsker Volha Babrova has been heavily fined as the Belarusian authorities consider having white-red-white flags and symbols as a grave violation.

On January 22, the police unexpectedly came to Volha’s place in the early hours and detained her. She was taken to the detention centre at about 9 am, but the protocol reads that she was there at 5 pm. It should be noted that the hearing of her case started when more than 72 hours passed since her being detained, which is a breach of procedure.

On January 25, Volha Babrova appeared before Pershamayski district court of Minsk, human rights centre Viasna reports. She.was found guilty in participating in an unauthorised mass event (Art. 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences) which, according to the prosecution, was held on January, 14. Then a group of people unfurled a huge white-red-white flag in Dana Mall, a shopping centre in the north-east of the Belarusian capital city. Judge Maksim Trusevich has imposed a fine of 870 rubles on her.

While Volha was being held in the detention centre, the family and friends were not allowed to hand over food parcels and personals to her. Despite the fact that Volha Babrova is the mother of five children (four of them are minors), she had to spend three days in custody awaiting Monday’s trial.

Flag of rejection of Lukashism

In 1991, the white-red-white flag and the emblem Pahonya (Pursuit) were adopted as national symbols of the country. However, they were official until the 1995 referendum, when on the tip from Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who is an ardent adherer of the USSR, they were replaced by the Soviet ones. For years, pro-Lukashenka officials have been linking the white-red-white colours to the opposition. Last December, the authorities said that those Belarusian citizens who would hang out ‘unregistered symbols’ even on their windows or balconies might be penalised under administrative law.