Permission sought for Freedom Day rally in Minsk

Three political organizations on Monday applied to the Minsk City Executive Committee for permission to stage a rally in the city on the occasion of Freedom Day.

The application had been signed by representatives of the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party, the United Civic Party and the Movement for Freedom.

Belarusian Christian Democracy is another co-organizer of the event, even though it could not be one of the applicants since it has no state registration.

The applicants ask for permission to mark the 101st anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of the Belarusian National Republic, which is currently celebrated by pro-democracy forces as Dzen Voli (Freedom Day), with a rally in front of the National Grand Opera and Ballet Theater from 5:20 p.m. until 9 p.m. on March 25. It is expected to be attended by 25,000 to 30,000 people.

“Just like last year, political organizations plan to put up their tents so that everyone could come and learn about their activities,” Ihar Barysaw, chairman of the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party, told reporters in Minsk on Monday.

Vital Rymashewski, co-chairperson of Belarusian Christian Democracy, said that they planned to hold a “political event in support of Belarus’ independence.”

In particular, he said that Belarusian Christian Democracy wanted to start collecting signatures in support of the cancellation of the Treaty on the Formation of the Union State of Belarus and Russia.

The organization would also suggest a package of reforms, primarily a bill that would grant protected status to Belarus’ historically national white-red-white flag and the Pahonya emblem.

According to Mr. Rymashewski, the bill is expected to be considered by the House of Representatives in spring. “It can certainly be rejected without strong public support,” he said.

Belarusian Christian Democracy would also suggest reforming Belarus’ educational system to revive the Belarusian language and culture. “We are convinced that it is impossible to properly defend the independence of the Republic of Belarus without these things,” he said.

Mr. Rymashewski called on other political parties and non-governmental organizations to join the rally.

“We ask all those who feel that the main threat today is the mistakes made by our country’s political leadership in the last 20 years to unite into a mass movement for independence,” Mr. Rymashewski said.

According to him, the Belarusian authorities’ mistakes include the signing of the “absolutely harmful” Union State Treaty that Russia is now trying to use to attack Belarus’ independence and possibly annex the country.

On January 16, the Belarusian Popular Front and Art Syadziba, a non-governmental organization engaged in the popularization of Belarusian culture, applied to the Minsk city government for permission to celebrate Freedom Day with a rally and a concert at the Dynama Stadium at the center of the Belarusian capital on March 24.