Police in Mahilyow region attempt to disrupt celebration of midsummer holiday
Police in the Mahilyow region attempted to disrupt a celebration of Kupalle, Belarus’ folk midsummer holiday, at the River Druts near Byalynichy on Saturday.
Dozens of people arrived at the place from Mahilyow, Horki, Byalynichy, Asipovichy, Minsk and other Belarusian cities for the celebration, with many putting up tents to stay there overnight.
“We have been gathering there for a decade every year,” Tatsyana Karatkevich, one of the Kupalle enthusiasts, told BelaPAN by phone. “A desire to cherish the traditions of the Belarusian holiday unites us.”
Ms. Karatkevich said that police did not interfered in the celebration in the previous years, including last year when Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, leader of the “Tell the Truth!” movement, attended the event.
“But this time they waited for us,” the woman said.
“After people put up tents, police and emergency management officials appeared at the scene,” she said. “Several people were fined 700,000 to 800,000 rubels for entering the forest. The pretext was that they had violated rules for visits to forests during the fire danger period.”
After that, a bus packed with riot police officers arrived; the police gave the people two hours to disperse, warning that they would use force otherwise, said Ms. Karatkevich.
“Some people, a group of 30, decided to leave, but they came back today,” she said. “Policemen based in Mahilyow showed up earlier in the day. They were on guard at the entry to the forest all night. In short, the situation is tense, but we continue to stay here at our own risk.” //BelaPAN