The Symbal.by shop in Minsk is closing down on June 29, the store owner Pavel Belavus wrote on Facebook. In the evening, a line of those willing to buy something in the store appeared near the store.
“You are welcome to buy something from us before the end of the week, before the store’s goods are arrested and confiscated. There are many more flags, t-shirts, mugs, handbags and other products,” said the owner of the store symbal.by Pavel Belavus.
After the information about the store closure, a line of people who wanted to express solidarity with Symbal.by gathered near the store. A paddy wagon arrived at the store prompting people to escape. The arrests began. According to the human rights center Viasna, about 20 people were detained then. Among the detainees was the freelance photographer working for BelaPAN Andrei Shaulyuha.
“At least two people got out of the wagon right in front of me. They threw themselves at the guy, who was in line in front of me. I turned around right away, ran towards the Chyrvonaya street. I don’t know if that guy was put in the wagon, I didn’t see him,” one of the guys standing in line told belsat.eu.
The wagon had left. The line was still there, but there were fewer people left. A police car arrived at the scene and two policemen got out.
According to our correspondent, the paddy wagon drove past the shop a few times, intimidating potential customers.
As of 8:20 p.m., there were about five people standing near the store.
As reported to Radio Liberty by Interior Ministry spokesman Natallia Hanusevich, the reason for the detention was the fact that people in line were blocking the passage of a car from the yard.
“A police unit was sent to stop the illegal actions of car blocking. Some people were taken in for checks,” said the representative of the Interior Ministry.
Even before the arrival of the wagon, there was an incident. A guy from the line clashed with a BMW driver, who was allegedly prevented by buyers to leave the driveway. He showed them the middle finger. What really happened is not known for sure. The driver called the police, and then the police wagon arrived.
On June 12, 419 ПСИХО3% T-shirts were seized from the courier of the store by the police. The ongoing inspections found some ‘violations’ at the store and a document on termination of production was issued, while the police took nine white-red-white flags for inspection.
Tax and anti-fraid agencies are still checking the store. There is still no information about the seizure of 419 t-shirts. And utility services have been refusing to turn on the electricity at the store for a week.
“This week we received an additional letter from Minsk City Executive Committee demanding to remove the signboard from the building within three days, and today, June 23, a representative of the Ministry of Emergency Situations came to sort out an anonymous complaint against us that allegedly unpleasant smells were coming from the premises and residents complained that the opposition shop was engaged in some production,” said Pavel Belavus.
According to him, in the coming days, the store may encounter another demand to stop working for these reasons. Those who do not live in Minsk, can support the store and pay for solidarity stickers with the card via the Symbal.by website.