Orsha authorities prohibited celebration of 500th anniversary of the Battle of Orsha
The bid for the festive event was filed by members of the organizing committee for celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Orsha. Deputy Chairman of the organizing committee, artist Mikola Kupava received an official letter from Orsha district executive committee with a prohibition of the event.
The official reason for the ban is the absence of service contracts with the police, ambulance and public utilities. According to a ruling of the executive committee, such contracts must be concluded by the applicant before applying for permission. However, it is impossible to enter into such contracts as the appropriate services insist they don't provide such services. Therefore, local civil society activists didn't manage to hold a single street action for the last four years.
“We didn't have great illusions that the event will be authorized. However, if Orsha authorities agreed that the battle is a momentous historical event, and its 500th anniversary is an important date, they would have written what we needed to do and in which order in order to obtain a permit. Moreover, they could help us organize it, which would eliminate the need of the service contracts. However, the executive committee protracted the time as long as it could, and then sent a denial,” commented Mr. Kupava.
According to him, several hundred people are ready to take part in the festivities in Krapiuna field, where the famous battle took place on 8 September 1514, including invited representatives of foreign embassies. Celebrations are planned for September 6: a short mass in a Catholic church, a tour of Orsha, a ride to the Krapiuna field for laying flowers to the memorial sign, put by democratic activists, and a concert.
Mikola Kupava is sure it is necessary to mark the 500th anniversary of the historic Battle of Orsha in any case:
"It is a legitimate right of every Belarusian - to mark important events in the history of the country and the state. Somebody is scared by the " ideological inconsistency" of the Orsha victory: September 8, 1514 the army of the Great Principality of Lithuania won a victory over the Russian troops, whose number was thrice bigger. Some people regard this celebration as a demarche against modern Russia. But we are talking about something else! It is important that today's Belarusians should feel themselves as heirs of the military glory of their ancestors, courageous fighters against any enemy invasion."
It is likely that after the ban of the official celebration, the format of the celebration will need to be changed. However, Mr. Kupava hopes that Orsha authorities won't put obstacles to it.