European March in Minsk
A mass opposition protest took place today, 14 October for the first time in six months. According to its organizers, up to 7 thousand people took part in the “European March”. The Russian radio station Echo Moskvy reports 8 thousand, while the agency RIA Novosti reports the police as claiming that there were only 3 thousand.
The same RIA agency says that around two thousand more radically inclined young people trying to pass from October Square to the National Library. This was the original route suggested by the organizers, but the city authorities refused to allow it. Near the “Luch” factory, the demonstrators path was blocked by spetsnaz [special force] police officers and they had to go in the opposite direction.
A row of young people marched along the pavements and road of Independence Avenue, paralyzing trafficking. The demonstrators were accompanied by several coaches with police officers.
A second column of demonstrators moved along the sanctioned route from the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences to Bangalore Square. There had been a rally of opposition members near the Academy of Sciences earlier in the day.
On the eve of the protest action 25 opposition activists were arrested in different parts of Belarus. The head of the organizing committee for the European March “For Freedom” Viktor Ivashkevich said that all of them had been charged with “foul language in a public place”.