Freedom Day in Belarus: crackdown on mass protests, detentions

Riot police and protesters amid a rally in Minsk, Belarus on March 25. Credit: Radio Liberty 

Belarus, News

Today Belarus marks Freedom Day (Dzen Voli), an unofficial holiday to commemorate the creation of Belarusian People’s Republic in 1918. Rallies were held in Minsk, Brest, Homel, Hrodna and Vitsebsk. Authorities sanctioned the gatherings in the cities of Brest and Hrodna, but didn’t permit rallies in Minsk, Homel and Vitsebsk. Belarusian opposition leader Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu was detained yesterday.

Today about 700 demonstrators rallied in the center of the Belarusian capital Minsk to hold a banned anti-government protest amid a heavy riot-police presence, AP reports. Tut.by, a Belarusian news site, estimated the number of participants as “thousands.”

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The police amassed in Minsk amid rallies:

Protesters chanted “Shame on you!” and “Fascists” as police blocked roads leading to central Minsk, where the opposition supporters gathered to hold a march. According to Radio Liberty, riot police arrested dozens of people in Minsk. Belarusian Radio Liberty said, about 300 people have been detained today. Riot police arrested people in the center of Minsk in the areas of the Academy of Sciences, in the Yakub Kolas Square area, Kazlou Street, Masherau Avenue, and close to Surhanau Street, Kuzma Chorny Street, and Kalinin Square, Charter97 reports. Dozens of journalists have been among detainees.

The video of a woman with a historical white-red-white flag of Belarus being detained in Minsk:

The photographs show the Minsk rally and its crackdown today:

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Several hundred rallied in Brest, the march in the center of the city was permitted by local authorities for the first time in the last four years.

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 These protests follow after a month of rallies against the “social parasite tax,” which for the first time since the mid-90s involved people from different social stratas and took part in the province:
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