Mass arrests of oppositionists in Minsk on day of Eastern Partnership summit

Another time Riot policemen were sent against participants of the rally dedicated to the memory of General Yury Zakharanka, abducted and assassinated in Belarus. Before and after the rally dozens of oppositionists were arrested.

On May 7 at 6 p.m. several hundreds of people with portraits of the former Interior Minister Yury Zakharanka, who went missing 10 years ago, and with portraits of political prisoners Mikalay Autukhovich, Yury Lyavonau and Uladzimir Asipenka came to October Square in Minsk. Activists of the civil campaign “European Belarus”, “Young Front”, the Belarusian Popular Front, the United Civil Party, well-known oppositional politicians including the leader of the “European Belarus” Andrei Sannikov, Charter’97 coordinator Zmitser Bandarenka, the deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front party Vintsuk Vyachorka, the chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic party (Narodnaya Hramada) Mikola Statkevich, activists of the “European Belarus” Zmitser Barodka, Pavel Yukhnevich, Alyaksandr Atroshchankau, a trade union leader Alyaksandr Bukhvostau, a former political prisoner Syarhei Skrabets, the leader of the “Young Belarus” Artur Finkevich, and common citizens. Participants of the hunger strike of solidarity with political prisoners which takes place in Minsk since May 4 have come to the square as well.

Dozens of riot policemen in uniform and in mufti were fed against participants of the rally. Policemen enclosed demonstrators from two sides and kept them in the circle al the time the rally lasted. Oppositionists were also holding streamers “Freedom to Political prisoners!” “Hunger strike”, national flags and flags of the “European Belarus”. People were chanting “Freedom!” and “Long live Belarus!” all the time.

In the end a Charter’97 coordinator Zmitser Bandarenka reminded that today is day of the 10th anniversary of forcible abduction of one of the opposition leaders, General Yury Zakharanka. Protesters observed a one minute silence honouring his memory.

Before the rally strated, riot policemen in mufti arrested the leader of the United Civil party Anatol Lyabedzka, activists of the “European Belarus” Yauhen Afnagel, Maxim Serhiyets, Alyaksei Syanchyla, Raman Bahdanovich, Syarhei Kazakou. They were seized right in the metro station entrance. Oppositionists were beaten during the detention.

Besides, before the rally started, near Minsk riot policemen detained four activists of the “Young Front”. Activists were on their way to a holiday in an orphanage in the village of Stankava. The detained were taken to the police department of Tsentralny district of Minsk.

New arrests started after the rally on October Square, when protesters started to disband. Riot policemen in mufti and in uniform threw people into buses by force and took them in an unknown direction. Activists of the “European Belarus” Maxim Vinyarski, Katsyaryna Lyudvig, Alyaksei Lyaukovich, Veranika Kashkan, Alesya Yakubouskaya, pro-democracy activists Syarzhuk Semyanyuk, Iryna Smyayan, a member of “Moladz BNF” Anton Kojpish, participants of the hunger strike of protest, members of the “Young Front” Artsyom Dubski and Mikalay Dzemidzenka, Tatsyana Shuputska, Pavel Kuryanovich, Anton Rusin, Nasta Lojka, Yuliya Mikhajlava. During detention riot policemen knocked Mikalay Dzemidzenka on the ground and started beating him up.

There was also an attempt to arrest an activist of the “European Belarus” Pavel Yukhnevich. Riot policemen tried to seize him right near the metro station entrance, but journalists managed to defend him. Policemen were scared away by cameras.

According to reports, all the detainees (there are about 30 of them) were taken to the police department of Tsentralny district of Minsk.