Minsk:: Entrepreneurs' Action Disperced by Police
Entrepreneurs’ protest action, which was to be held in Minsk on 18 February, was cracked down by riot police. The people were forced out of square several times, as people come to the action. They were pushed out in the direction of Internatsyianalnaya and Bahdanovich streets. Total about 1 000 people participated in the action. Political prisoner Aliaksandr Kazulin’s daughter Volha, the leader of the movement For Freedom! Aliaksandr Milinkevich, a leader of the entrepreneur movement Aliaksandr Makayeu and a democratic activist Viachaslau Siuchyk were detained.
It was the fourth protest action held by entrepreneurs for the forth times during the three last months in Minsk. Individual entrepreneurs took to street in protest against Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s decree ruining their business by allowing them to hire only close relatives.
During the previous actions the people gathered in Kastrychnitskaya Square in Minsk, whereas this time it was cordoned off by the riot police. The first group of entrepreneurs came to the city center with posters and banners and was forced out at once. Tens of riot policemen convoyed the people to the Opera Theatre. The entrepreneurs didn’t return to the square, but went to the TV-center in Kamunistychnaya Street. The police didn’t let people in the TV-center, but a leader of entrepreneurs managed to pass to the administration of the National TV a petition to give airtime for individual entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, the police were conducting mopping-up in Kastrychnitskaya Square. As soon as some tens of people were coming there, militia were encircling them and forcing out to the neighboring streets. At the same time Lenin and Engels Streets were blocked to prevent people from coming back to the square. This scheme was used by the riot police at least five times.
The people were treated especially brutally when political prisoner Aliaksandr Kazulin’s daughter Volha came to the square. She and lawyer Ihar Rynkevich unfurled a banner ‘Freedom for individual entrepreneurs!’ with photos of Aliaksandr Kazulin fastened to it. ‘My father would support entrepreneurs and their struggle’, Volha said.
The daughter of the political prisoner didn’t manage to stay in the square for a long time. About twenty riot policemen ran up to her and started forcing people out of the square. An order of riot police commander Yury Padabed was heard through radioset: ‘Detain the one in red!’ (Volha Kazulina was wearing a red jacket). As a result the girl was detained, and entrepreneurs and journalists were forced out behind the Palace of the Republic.
People were also detained on the way to the square. The leader of the For Freedom! movement Aliaksandr Milinkevich and his aides Ales Lahvinets and Ales Kryvalets were detained and guarded to the investigatory committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Riot policemen stood at the metro station Kastrychnitskaya and stopped every man aged from 30 to 50, who in their view might be a potential participant of the entrepreneurs’ action. Journalists with photo- and video equipment were not let to leave the pedestrian subway.
Mopping up of the Kastrychnitskaya Square lasted about 1.5 hours. Finally the leaders of entrepreneurs called people to disperse because it wasn’t possible to gather. But entrepreneurs said with confidence they would take to streets on 25 March next time to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Belarusian National Republic.