On Thursday evening, residents of Minsk took to the streets to express solidarity with jailed presidential hopefuls, politicians and activists. The rally lasted until midnight.
On the last day of collecting signatures for potential candidates, Viktar Babaryka, Lukashenka’s would-be opponent in the upcoming elections, was arrested. Earlier, popular blogger and might-have-been presidential candidate Syarhei Tsikhanouski and his eight supporters, as well as oppositionists Paveł Sevyarynets and Mikalai Statkevich, were taken into custody.
In the very heart of the city, Belarusians formed a human chain of several kilometres, it stretched along Independence Avenue from Yakub Kolas metro station to Victory Square. The citizens were watched by plainclothes and uniformed police officers who urged them to disperse and not participate in ‘illegal event’. There was a short break due to a heavy fall of rain and hail. However, later the returned to the city’s main avenue. Lots of Minsk drivers supported the rally by sounding the horns.
Although the picket was to have ended at 21.00, people kept joining the chain; it was growing larger and finally reached Independence Square, where the seat of the Belarusian government and parliament is located. The police blocked some of the entrances to the city centre; paddy wagons were spotted. However, there have been no reports about the detainees on Thursday evening.
Belarusian opposition politicians Volha Kavalkova and Yury Hubarevich
Slippers as symbol of protest
belsat.eu, photos: Alisa Hanchar