Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Demonstrators arrested at Chernobyl anniversary
Protest action in Minsk on the anniversary of Chernobyl nuclear power station accident ended in mass arrests. About 40 people were detained. Among them were representatives of right-wing organizations from Russia – Yabloko’s youth branch, the youth branch of Union of Right Forces, movement “Marching Without Putin”, “Oborona” (Deefense) organization, Ukrainian organization “National Alliance”, as well as activists of the Belarusian youth organization “Young Front”. There are journalists among the detainees.
Activists of Belarusian opposition have planned to deliver a petition to the office of Belarusian president. They demand to resettle people from strongly polluted areas, to provide people affected by Chernobyl with medicines and treatment, to stop production of foodstuffs in contaminated areas; to cancel the new regulations that make it more difficult for children from the contaminated zones to travel abroad; to cancel limitations for humanitarian aid delivery; to stop forcible job allocation in “Chernobyl-affected” areas for graduates. About 30 activists of youth organizations from Ukraine and Russia have arrived to take part in the protest.
It was planned to deliver the petition at 6 p.m. However an hour and a half before policemen and riot policemen encircled the building of the presidential Administration and blocked the passage in Engels Street.
After several fruitless attempts to approach the Administration building, youth activists unfurled an orange streamer “For Yours and Our Freedom”, banners “Today Ukraine, Tomorrow Belarus”. They formed a column and marched towards the Administration. The column was preceded by the priests with crosses.
However, Belarusian riot police was not stopped by the crosses, and the attempt to bring the petitions into the administration of Lukashenka ended by brutal dispersal.
Meanwhile, a small demonstration in Moscow expressed solidarity with the Belarusian opposition:
On completion of the demonstration, participants reportedly handed an embassy official a sack of potatoes and asked him to pass it to President Aleksandr Lukashenko.