Organizers of Chernobyl anniversary march ready to accept any route proposal from Minsk government

The applicants wanted the demonstration to start in the square in front of the National Academy of Sciences at 6 p.m. and go along Independence Avenue...

The organizers of the Charnobylski Shlyakh (Path of Chernobyl) march to be staged in Minsk on April 26 on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident are ready to accept any route propsoed by the city government, Zmitser Dashkevich, leader of an opposition youth group called Malady Front, told reporters on Monday, BelaPAN reports.

An application for permission to stage the march was filed on April 9. The applicants wanted the demonstration to start in the square in front of the National Academy of Sciences at 6 p.m. and go along Independence Avenue, Minsk’s main thoroughfare, to Kastrychnitskaya Square where a rally would be held.

"By our application, we suggest that the march should take place at the center of the city," Mr. Dashkevich said. "But we understand that the authorities are unlikely to agree to this route."

The organizers have therefore decided not to "stir up the situation" and accept any route proposal, even if it means marching to the so-called Chernobyl chapel near Bangalore Square on the outskirts of Minsk, Mr. Dashkevich said.

The demonstration is going to be a mournful event, that is why drums or fireworks will be inappropriate, he said, adding that "propaganda of, for example, anarchist views, will be considered a provocation."

The march is intended to draw public attention to the consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl accident and not for political self-promotion, said Vital Rymashewski, co-chairman of Belarusian Christian Democracy. The organizers have no attendance targets to meet and will be satisfied with the demonstration, no matter how many or few people it draws, he noted.

Under regulations, the Minsk City Executive Committee must reply to the application no later than five days before the planned date of the march.

In Belarus under Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s rule, the Chernobyl march has become one of the largest annual protests staged in the Belarusian capital city by opponents of the government.

Some 1,000 people took part in last year's Charnobylski Shlyakh march and 10,000 in 2006, when the 20th anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster was observed. A crowd of up to 50,000 took part in the march on the 10th anniversary, during which demonstrators overturned cars and clashed with riot police. Dozens were injured and more than 200 were arrested.