Opposition activists demonstrate in downtown Minsk against political persecution

2009 2009-12-17T15:06:00+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

About 50 people staged an unauthorized demonstration in Minsk's downtown Kastrychnitskaya Square on December 16 to demand an end to alleged political persecution and commemorate the unsolved disappearances of four opponents of the government. 

Braving bitterly cold weather – it was minus-19 Celsius (minus-3 Fahrenheit) – the demonstrators stood in a line along Independence Avenue between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. They displayed signs saying, "No to Political Terror!" and "Kidnappers Must Go to The Hague!" Belarus' historically national white-red-white flags, and images of opposition politicians Yury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar, businessman Anatol Krasowski and journalist Dzmitry Zavadski, who mysteriously disappeared in 1999 and 2000. Participants also held images of Artsyom Dubski, Mikalay Awtukhovich and Uladzimir Asipenka, who are believed to be political prisoners. 

The crowd chanted, "Long Live Belarus!' and "Freedom to Political Prisoners!" in response to a police officer who was warning through a megaphone that the gathering was unsanctioned. No arrests were reported during or after the demonstration. 

Participants included prominent opposition politicians Anatol Lyabedzka, Andrey Sannikaw and Vyachaslaw Siwchyk and also young opposition activists Artur Finkevich, Anastasiya Palazhanka and Yawhen Afnahel.