Independence Day in Brest: Activists Detained
On July 27 an authorized meeting For Freedom! dedicated to the 16th anniversary of adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Belarus was to take place in Brest. However on July 25 in the evening it was informed that Brest city executive committee banned the meeting. The alleged reason was leaflets distributed in the city with the agitation against the regime aimed at destabilization of the situation in the city and in the republic. However, despite of the announcements on local radio and TV every hour, discouraging from attending the meeting, at 5.30 p.m. about 250 democratic activists gathered near the stadium Budaunik. People carried national and party flags. Volunteers of the campaign For Freedom! presented roses with white-red-white ribbons to women. Badges For Freedom were handed out.
About 30 policemen observed the scene. Many of them were in plainclothes. From time to time policemen had questions to some activists. A member of the BPF Vital Koush was detained for dissemination of bulletins in the beginning of the meeting. An activist of the campaign For Freedom! Andrei Sharenda was detained by policemen as he had a bog bag of roses in his hands.
White-red-white ribbons on the roses were considered by policemen as unregistered symbols. Mr. Sharenda noted that he bought the ribbons in the state department store, and offered policemen to detain shop assistants for selling unregistered symbols. But the formal pretext for his detention was a sticker For Freedom! on the passport of Mr. Sharenda, on the place of the coat of arms. It is prohibited, according to the law. He managed to pass flowers to other activists before the arrest. The two activists were taken to the police department of Maskouski district, and then released without drawing up a report. Policemen gave back bulletins, but left a copy for them to read. Another activist, Tatsyana Vyalichkina, was detained for distribution of badges. A national flag was found in her belongings. After the meeting she was released, and badges and the flag returned to her.