Authorities grant permission for rally, concert on BNR centenary

The Minsk City Executive Committee has granted permission for holding a rally and a concert in front of the National Grand Opera and Ballet Theater on March 25 in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of the Belarusian National Republic (BNR).

An application for permission for the events was filed on February 28 after the Minsk City Executive Committee had denied permission for holding a procession, a rally and a concert at the center of the city on March 25.

The application was signed by representatives of five organizations, including the Belarusian Popular Front, the United Civic Party, the Movement for Freedom, the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party, and Amaroka.

On March 2, Alyaksey Yanukevich, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front, and other applicants visited the Minsk City Executive Committee and were handed a written permit.
As Mr. Yanukevich told BelaPAN, the permit says that the city government exempts the organizers from the requirement to pay for the maintenance of public order and standby EMS coverage during the events and a clean-up after them.

The rally is to start at 1 p.m. and the concert is to be held until 7 p.m.

A concert stage is expected to be set up in front of the theater. The area is to be surrounded by metal railings and people will have to pass through security control.

“We’ll hold talks with representatives of the city police department in mid-March to discuss how the police plan to search people entering the area,” Mr. Yanukevich said. “We’ll try to ensure that the procedure is not humiliating.”

According to Mr. Yanukevich, the written permit warns against the use of “unregistered symbols.” “We specially asked about the use of the white-red-while flag and were told that people would be able to use the flag during the events without hindrance,” he said.

Mikalay Statkevich, Vyachaslaw Siwchyk and some other members of the organizing committee for the commemoration of the centenary of the BNR earlier argued that a procession should necessarily be staged on March 25.

“I believe that the commemoration of the BNR centenary should show Belarusians’ determination to defend the independence of the country,” Mr. Statkevich told reporters on February 27. “If we only celebrate, it may happen that Belarus loses its independence and we have nothing to celebrate. This is not just a celebration. This is part of our struggle for independence.”

An additional application was submitted on February 28 for permission to hold a procession to the concert venue from the Yanka Kupala statue in nearby Yanka Kupala Park.

Minsk government officials said that their reply to this application might take more time.