Police prohibit handing out non-state press
3 May is celebrated as the Universal Day of Press. At 12 a.m. representatives of the United Democratic Forces (including members of the Belarusian Popular Front party, the United Civil Party, the Party of Communists Belarusian, etc.) gathered near the Main Post Office in Minsk to mark this day by handing out to passers-by the officially registered non-state newspapers: Narodnaya Volia, Nasha Niva and Tovarishch. Bear in mind, that the state retail and subscription monopolist on press Belsayuzdruk, neither sells these newspapers, nor provides subscription to them, all because of their ‘oppositional’ content.
The political activists were met by many policemen and men in civvies, some of them with video cameras. The action was also attended by representatives of non-state media. When the people started handing out the newspapers, the deputy chair of the main department of the internal affairs of Minsk city executive committee, police major Stanilevich warned them that such actions would be qualified as an unauthorized mass action (article 23.34 of the Administrative Code, provides such penalties as warning, fine or up to 15 days of arrest).
As a result the action participants simply unfurled the newspapers and stood reading them for about half an hour. Then they decided to appeal to the prosecutor’s office against the major’s self-will. The prosecutor’s office, predictably enough, not only refused to accept the complaint, but even did not present the complaint book to the oppositionists.
Then a group of activists and journalists went to the main office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. At about 1 p.m. the action participants managed to put down the chronicle of the events near the Main Post Office in the MIA complaint book.