Swedish civil society activists meet with NGO leaders in Homyel despite police interference
Swedish civil society activists managed to hold a meeting with leaders of Belarusian non-governmental organizations in Homyel on Friday despite attempts by police to disrupt the event.
The Swedish activists, who represent democracy and rights organization Forum Syd, arrived in Belarus as part of preparations for the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum that will take place in Stockholm on May 25. They planned to familiarize themselves with Belarusian NGOs and hold a workshop for civil society representatives and government officials on the possibility of involvement in European Union programs.
The meeting was held in a private single-family house. As the participants were about to begin their discussion, police officers arrived and attempted to enter the building, explaining that they had information that people wanted for crimes were inside. However, the owner of the house refused to let the police in and they remained outside.
Speaking at the meeting, the Forum Syd representatives assured the Belarusian activists that Sweden would continue working toward democratic changes in Belarus and expressed readiness for long-term cooperation with Belarusian NGOs.
After the meeting, a car taking the Swedes away from the house was pulled over by police, who said that the foreigners resembled illegal migrants. The police checked their travel documents and wrote down their passport data.