The official reason for detaining the resident of Hrodna was her ‘participating in a picket’. In fact, however, the police showed an increased interest in the warm track pants with white-red-white stripes which the woman was wearing.
On January 17, Lyubou Sarlai, who is on her maternity leave, went for a walk around Hrodna, nn.by reports. She bought a coffee and started talking to a woman she met on the street, they were moving in the direction of the local Youth Centre. A bit later, OMON riot policemen ran up from behind and detained them. Notably, the protocol drawn upon Lyubou reads that she was taking part in Sunday’s picket and chanting ‘Long live Belarus’.
In addition, in his explanatory report, the police officer made mention of the colours of the pants which ‘violated public order’, Lyubou stressed.
“I was shocked: what strange things start to be written in the official documents!” the woman said.
Lyubou Sarlai and her acquaintance had to spend a night in the detention facility. On January 18, the Hrodna resident stood trial; the judge put a lot of questions about the clothes she had on at the moment of being detained: what jacket, scarf, and whether the stripes on her pants were factory-made or she had sewn them on by herself. Lyubou had to explain that she had bought the pants as far back as 2014, when she was pregnant. According to her, as the pants are very warm, they are perfect for walks in sub-zero temperatures.
The mother of two little kids got a fine of 580 rubles, so did her companion in misfortune. The ‘unlucky’ pants were not confiscated.
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.