Youth Forum Cancelled by Valozhyn Police
On 21 October three minivans full of young people went from Minsk to Hrodna for a Youth Forum. The detained people represented various towns of Belarus and various organizations and pressure groups: Belarusian Students' Association, Students' European Forum, Scouts' organizations, etc.
One of the detained people Vasil Liepsh said that the traffic police stopped three minivans outside Valozhyn at about 9 a.m. The detainees spent about four hours in the local district police department. The official reason provided was the measures taken in connection with the recent explosions in Vitsebsk, which, among other things, involved the detention and search of buses.
The question the Radio Liberty correspondent asked the police "Why did you detain the young people?" remained unanswered: the guy who had taken the call at the other end simply hung up.
Later on in an interview given to the Charter-97 internet portal Mr. Siniauski, head of the Valozhyn police, justified the police actions by saying the buses had been driving minors without parents.
Below is the opinion of Vasil Lepesh regarding the cause of the incident: "It was our car that they stopped, having allowed all the others to pass by. They did not search our belongings, though we had many; they even did not take an interest in the contents of our things. Their purpose was to prevent us from reaching the destination.
Because a group of participants was detained near Valozhyn, the Youth Forum in Hrodna was disrupted. Sviatlana Karaliova, an organizer of the event, said: "Obviously, this is yet another piece of evidence showing how difficult it is to organize processes in the Republic of Belarus. The forum will be postponed, because the goal of the forum is to consolidate the youth organizations. And also search for efficient methods of interaction and work in Belarus.
Sviatlana Karaliova heads the National Council of Youth and Children's Organizations. When they again attempt to stage a Youth Forum is not known yet.