The Belarusian authorities did not allow the opposition to mark Independence Day on 27 July


“We submitted applications to hold demonstrations in Minsk and other cities, but did not get permission. We decided against unsanctioned actions on that day. Firstly because it is only activists who are not afraid of coming to such, and secondly because further arrests will still further disrupt all our work”, was the explanation given by leader of the united Belarusian opposition, Aleksandr Milinkevich. He stressed however that the opposition does not plan to reject street actions in their struggle, “which Lukashenko will see this autumn”.

The hesitation now of the opposition can be explained by the repressive actions of the authorities towards Lukashenko’s opponents. For example, on 16 July the leader of the United Civic Party Anatoly Lebedko was jailed for 10 days.  Then on 26 July Aleksandr Milinkevich, his wife and press secretary were detained for two hours before being released. As Aleksandr Milinkevich puts it “This was a measure to exert psychological pressure, especially before demonstrations on 27 July”.

On 27 July 1990 the Parliament of the Republic adopted a Declaration on the Sovereignty of the Belarusian SSR. Following a referendum held in 1996, the main national holiday was established as 3 July, the day that Belarus was liberated from the Nazi occupiers. Since then every year on 27 July Lukashenko’s opponents have held acts of protest throughout Belarus.

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