“Boycott of the dictatorship”: Spontaneous protest after end of elections
After the polling stations closed on Sunday evening at 8 pm, around 50 opposition activists gathered together in October Square in Minsk. Besides fireworks, a few speeches and “Long live Belarus” shouts, the atmosphere was mostly calm.
The protestors’ main demands were the resignation of Alexander Lukashenko and free and fair elections, as the slogans on two large banners showed: “Lukashenko, go away” and “Boycott of the dictatorship”. Just for a short time, an anarchist calling himself Jury Urso interrupted the scene with a small performance.
At 9 pm, mainly young activists started a spontaneous protest and marched in the direction of Independence Square through downtown Minsk. Around 100 people attended , led by demonstrators carrying historical national white-red-white flags, European Union flags and the “Boycott of the dictatorship” banner. Despite the heavy presence of non-uniformed security forces and repeated warnings that the “mass event” was unsanctioned, the crowd finally reached Independence Square.
The gathering stopped in front of the Red Church. One of the leaders of the demonstration paid a short tribute to the still missing political opponents of Lukashenko and to all other Belarusians who sacrificed their lives and freedom for democracy. He also called on opposition forces in Belarus and abroad to rally around Mikola Statkevich.
No serious incidents were noted. Only at the very end, when the crowd was already dispersing, the police detained a 17 year-old with a white-red-white flag. He was charged with “participating in an unauthorized mass event”, although the police let him go later. As the Human Rights Center “Viasna” reported, already before the protest march, five anarchist movement activists were detained not far from Independence Square. They were charged with “petty hooliganism”. Two of them were placed in a detention centre for the night, while the fate of the others is not yet clear.