Ukrainian flags at Minsk Arena banned for convenience of audience

2014 2014-11-25T16:56:43+0300 2014-11-25T16:56:43+0300 en

Anniversary concert of the cult Ukrainian band Okean Elzy was held at the Minsk-Arena  on the evening of 21 November  and was sold out.

Some fans of the group tried to pass to the concert with the national flag of Ukraine, but already at the entrance to the building,special policemen demanded that flags be left in a locker and the yellow-blue ribbons taken off.

In his comment to BelaPAN Deputy Director General of the Minsk-Arena sports complex, Mikalai Sergienka, said that they had banned rallies or demonstrations:

"If the audience had the flags of other countries, there would occur various political rallies. But the security offered the people to leave the flags at the storage chamber," said Sergienka.

It also turned out that the administration of Minsk-Arena had agreed with the Ukrainian group upon the "certain songs they would not sing". The decision not to allow people with flags of Ukraine on the "Minsk-Arena" was taken by the Department of Internal Affairs of Minsk Executive Committee.

"Before the concert, the audience was, indeed, persistently asked to leave various objects that may interfere with other people watching the concert in the locker room: flags, banners, etc. The concert goers were asked to do this solely for the purpose of security, nothing more," quoted Alyaksandr Lastousky, spokesman of the Minsk police.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus and Ukraine discussed the scandal on Twitter. Press secretary of the Ukrainian Minister Yevgeny Perebeynis was the first to ask colleagues from Belarus in the Belarusian language:

"Colleagues, is this normal? Is the Ukrainian flag banned in Belarus?"

Our Foreign Ministry replied as follows, also in Belarusian:

"According to the Interior Ministry, if the concert is sold out, the same would be with our flag, so as not to Obstruct the view for the audience. We like Okean Elzy here."

To what Perebeynis wrote with disbelief:

"Thank you for the answer, but I cannot imagine the police treat the Belarusian flag with the same fury and contempt."

Meanwhile, some of the Okean Elzy fans, who failed to carry the concert yellow-blue flags to the concert, are already preparing a complaint against the police.