Provocations and detentions at ‘Battle of Orsha’2009’ festival

2009 2009-09-07T18:32:52+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Traditional festival Battle of Orsha was to take place near Orsha town at night of 5-6 September. The festival is traditionally held at Krapiuna Field, the historic place of the Battle of Orsha in 1514, where the army of the Great Duchy of Lithuania (predecessor of Belarus) defeated the Russian army. Police officers said a mine had been found on the field and didn’t allow people to come there.

They refused to say what the mine was and why it had appeared on the field. They stated it was confidential information. Police cars stood almost on every crossroads from Orsha to Hatskaushchyna village.

Police also detained the fest’s coordinator Yury Koptsik, BelSat correspondent Ivan Shulha, and activists of some youth organizations. The reason was a power generator in the car – policemen said cases of stealing generators had become more rapid recently.

Participants of the festival Palina Ssepanenka, Viktar Tratsiakou, Larysa Shchyrakova, Ales Kazhemiaka and others were detained near Orsha. Policemen said they young people were detained because they had no retro-reflectors and passports.

As Larysa Shchyrakova said, she and other 10 people were detained near Krapiuna village at 8:10 p.m. accused of not having retroreflectors, pushed in a police car and taken to Orsha.

Police officers also drew up administrative reports for not having retro- reflectors against the youth, confiscated musical equipment. The detained had to spend about two hours in the police department and then were guarded to a station in Kokhanava.

‘They left us at the station at midnight and suggested that we should wait for a train to Orsha till 5 a.m.. It is banditism – pulling people into a police car, taking them to a train station without any grounds! We had to go to the festival hitch-hiking at night. We got there in the end, in spite of all obstacles. Such actions by police are outrageous, they act like bandits,’ Shchyrakova commented.

The press-service of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party reports about the detention of the BHD member Valeryia Charnamortsava, the Young Front activists Nasta Loika, Aliaksei Yanusheuski and the BHD representative in Vitsebsk oblast Alina Radchynskaya. Ales Kamenski, another Young Front activist, was kept in a police car for about 90 minutes. About 15 people who were heading for the festival were brought to the local police station. They were detained near the concert stage for having no retro-reflective elements on them and driven 25 kilometers away, to the railway station Kokhanava.

Homel dweller Maria Tulzhankova told BelaPAN, her friends and she, hitch-hiking to the festival, were stopped several times by police who searched them under a pretext they could have thrust weapon. Nevertheless, the activists managed to get to Krapiuna Field. Tulzhankova said policemen were standing near the memorial crosses and the stone on Krapiuna Field on 5-6 Septmber not allowing participant of the fest to come closer.

As learnt from the Young Front press service, the Battle of Orsha festival took place. Organizers failed to set a stage on Krapiuna Field, but held small acoustic concerts near the place of the battle.

We remind that police traditionally hinders holding the Battle of Orsha festival. In 2007, policemen said artillery shells had been found in the river Dnieper. Krapiuna Field was enclosed by police; activists who came to the festival were arrested.