Charnobylski Shlyakh organizers walk out of meeting with authorities

The organizers of this year's Charnobylski Shlyakh (Path of Chernobyl) march walked out of a meeting with officials of the Minsk City Executive Committee on Wednesday as the latter refused to remove a cameraman.

The Minsk city authorities invited the organizers to visit the city executive committee to discuss the opposition march to be staged on April 26, the 21st anniversary of the nuclear accident. When the opposition activists arrived they saw camera crews of two state TV channels, a police officer with a camera and plainclothesmen, apart from officials of the executive's committee's ideology department and police officers. Officials agreed to bar only the camera crews of the state channels from the meeting following the request by the opposition activists. The police officer with a camera stayed.

All organizers of the march arrived at the city executive committee for the talks. Those included Alyaksey Yanukevich, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF); Yuras Zyankovich, a member of the BPF Council; Valyantsina Palevikova, a member of the Political Council of the United Civic Party; and Anatol Sidarevich, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party "Hramada."

Mr. Yanukevich told BelaPAN that such videotapes had often been used by the authorities in the past for portraying specific opposition activists or the opposition in general in a negative light.

"The talks failed solely through the fault of the authorities who embarked on a bath of ultimatum, intimidation and provocation from the very beginning," he said.

He added that the organizers were ready to hold talks with the authorities in a "normal atmosphere" to ensure that the everything would be calm and "civilized" during the march.

The Minsk City Executive Committee is to reply to the application for permission to stage the march this week.

The organizers want the march to start on Yakub Kolas Square at 6 p.m. and run on Independence Avenue's sidewalks to the square in front of the National Library.