Mikola Statkevich, one of the leaders of the civil campaign “European Belarus,” chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Narodnaya Hramada), was sentenced to 10 days of arrest by the Pershamaiski district court of Minsk for participation in May Day demonstration. The militia report, drawn up against the politician, says: “he was waving a blue with yellow stars flag, called through a megaphone to join the European Union, by that violating article 23.34 of the Administrative Code.”
It is notable that the same reports were drawn up against other “European Belarus” activists detained on 1 May – Yauhen Afnahel, Paval Yukhnevich, Zmitser Dashkevich, Artur Finkevich, Maksim Serhiets. Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code is “violating of rules of organisation of mass events.”
Judge Yury Harbatouski read the sentence to Mikola Statkevich.
More than 100 activists of the civil campaign “European Belarus” came to the National library on 1 May and unfurled dozens of European flags on the official demonstration. 1 May is celebrated as Labour Day in Belarus. Besides, this date is significant both for Europe and Belarus: four years ago ten new states joined the European Union and the EU borders extended to our country.
As soon as EU flags appeared among red-green ones on the official demonstration, riot militiamen run up to oppositionists. They snatched EU flags, broke flagpoles, took away blue cloths with stars.
“Lukashenka repeatedly invited the opposition to attend official events. We came to the authorised by him holiday, we came under EU flags, which are not forbidden in Belarus. In response the authorities used force, riot militiamen began to arrest and beat people, tore European flags. It’s incomprehensible how the authorities will build a dialog with Europe if they treat European symbols like that, if they treat the Belarusians, who stand for cooperation with the European Union, like that. By these actions the regime puts an end to their attempts to improve relations with Europe and receive loans from the West,” Yauhen Afnahel, activist of the civil campaign “European Belarus,” told in the interview to the Charter’97 press center, commenting on arrests of oppositionists on 1 May.