A rally of solidarity with political prisoners was brutally disbanded in Minsk on February 16. Dozens of Minsk dwellers were beaten up by policemen and riot policemen on October Square in Minsk.
On February 16, on the Day of Belarusian Solidarity, opposition leaders and activists, former political prisoners and common Minsk dwellers came to October Square with portraits of the arrested Mikalay Autukhovich, Yury Lyavonau, Uladzimir Asipenka, Artsyom Dubski.
Leaders of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Andrei Sannikov, Zmitser Bandarenka, Zmitser Barodka, the leader of the campaign “Jeans for Freedom” Yauhen Afnagel, former political prisoners Alyaksandr Kazulin, Andrei Kim, Zmitser Dashkevich, Artur Finkevich, Enira Branitskaya, Tsimafej Dranchuk, the United Civil Party leader Anatol Lyabedzka and other prominent personalities and common citizens.
Participants of the solidarity rally unfurled streamers “Freedom to Autukhovich, Lyavonau and Asipenka!”, “No to political terror!” Protesters scanned “Freedom!”, “Long live Belarus!”
People managed to stay on the square for no more than 10 minutes. Dozens of riot policemen and policemen attacked the participants of the peaceful rally. People were brutally forced out of the square, they were knocked down on the ground, kicked, pushed by fists and truncheons, not paying attention to people falling. A stampede occurred, which reminded tragic events in Nyamiha Street. Policemen were simply stomping on people, ignoring their shouts.
Being pushed by riot policemen’s punches, people stumbled on the so-called “Zero kilometre”, the monument marking the centre of Minsk. The monument is conic, and is covered with iron. People were falling on it one after another, got bruised, and besides were beaten by truncheons.
The beaten participants of the rally were squeezed out to Internatsyanalnaya Street by a “wall” of riot policemen and police.
One of the leaders of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Zmitser Barodka is seriously beaten up. He tried to shield a girl who fell on the ground after a strike by a riot policeman. As a result, a riot policeman kicked him on the temple. The head of the politician started bleeding, and he had to seek medical assistance.
The young activist Uladzimir Syarheyeu was carried away in the arms of his friends. He had been beaten so seriously that he couldn’t walk. A strong blow on the head by a truncheon was received by the former political prisoner Andrei Kim. An activist of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Palina Kuryanovich was knocked down on the ground, and policemen stomp on her. Before the eyes of the Charter’97 journalist, one of the girls was seized on the hair by a riot policeman and hit against the iron post on the square.