Minsk Action of Silent Solidarity Turned into Noisy Protest

16.06.2011 10:42

Wednesday, June 15, hundreds gathered in Minsk city center for the traditional event of "silent solidarity." The participants tried to protest without slogans and in a peaceful manner against the government, which, according to the protesters, is unable to help the country overcome the protracted crisis. However, according to Telegraf correspondent, the action was far from being silent.

The action, initiated by the organizers of the «revolution in social network» of the popular social network «Vkontakte,» was planned in the same manner at Kastrychnitskaya Square as it happened on the past two Wednesdays.

However, this was prevented by the rehearsal performances of students of the University of Physical Education and Sports, members of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union, rehearsing dress parade at Kastrychnitskaya Square. In connection with this, at ​​18:30 the square was completely cordoned off by police with metal barriers put up on the perimeter of the area.

The officer of the group found it difficult to answer  the question of Telegraf correspondent about whether such a rehearsal in the central Minsk would be held regularly.

The action organizers’ fallback — Freedom Square — was also unavailable at 18:30. It was impossible to move to City Hall and the Cathedral because of the cordon, as well as to get to the cafes and restaurants situated directly on the square.

Nevertheless, the people who came to support the action, didn’t hurry to leave the center and were staying in the streets, adjacent to Kastrychnitskaya Square, applauding and whistling. Drivers were honking in solidarity with the protesters. Photo report from the event can be seen here.

Closer to 19:00, the SWAT officers blocked the pass to Engels Street from the Palace of the Republic. «Kupalauskaya» and «Kastrychnitskaya» subway stations were blocked as well, the train were passing by these stations for more than 1.5 hours.

These restrictions caused dissatisfaction among ordinary citizens, unaware of the action. People were forced to get home to their unusual routes, openly expressed their dissatisfaction, arguing with police officers in the cordon. Many residents simply could not understand why Freedom Square was blocked, but no explanations were given by the police.

People, gathered on the streets of Lenin, Engels and Independence Avenue, were shouting no slogans or political demands. No party symbols were seen at the participants of the action. Meanwhile, there was former presidential candidate, leader of the civil campaign «Tell the Truth!» Vladimir Niakliaeu among the protesters. The politician was talking to reporters, protesters and the police. There were also seen leader of the «Youth BCD» Lubov Kameneva, deputy head of the civil campaign «Tell the Truth!» Andrei Dmitriev, leader of the Movement of Solidarity «Together» Ales Makayev and others among the protesters.

Around 19:40 police were actively encouraging people to disperse and began soon driving people away from Independence Avenue in the direction of the National Bank. Policemen lined in three dense rows, not letting anyone to Kastrychnitskaya Square.

At the same time the employees of the information group were asking people through loudspeakers to move away from the roadway where soon appeared special forces personnel. Citizens were asked not to gather in groups, including the people waiting for public transport at bus stops.

After 20:00 people began to disperse. Telegraf correspondent witnessed how people in civilian clothes detained a participant of the action. There are reports of 17 other arrests, including the detention of journalist Pavel Sverdlov.