Police in Minsk hunting for opposition activists to prevent street protests
Police in Minsk are hunting for opposition activists to prevent them from participating in "Dzen Voli" (Freedom Day) events expected to be held on Friday evening on the occasion of the 93rd anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of the 1918 Belarusian National Republic.
At about 6:30 a.m., police officers raided the home of young opposition activist Syarhey Pawlyukevich and arrested him.
An hour later, policemen arrived at the home of young opposition activist Franak Vyachorka, but his father, former Belarusian Popular Front Deputy Chairman Vintsuk Vyachorka, said that Franak was not at home.
At about 8 a.m., Altyaksandr Stsepanenka, an activist of the United Civic Party, was brought to the Savetski district police department.
At noon, Andrey Dzmitryyew, a coordinator of the "Tell the Truth!" campaign, was arrested not far from the KGB head office in Minsk.
Police officers also attempted to get into the homes of Hanna Sharuba, Iryna Pcholkina, Ulad Valodzin, Aleh Ladutska, Tatsyana Shaputska, Leanid Awtukhow, Ivan Kruk and other opposition activists.
Uladzimir Shulzhytski, an activist of the youth wing of the Belarusian Popular Front resident in Smarhon, Hrodna region, was ordered to present himself at the local police department at 4 p.m.
At 6 p.m., opposition groups Malady Front and European Belarus plan to stage a demonstration in Minsk's downtown Yakub Kolas Square. The Belarusian Popular Front, the Movement for Freedom and other groups have called on Belarusians to come to Yanka Kupala Park at 6 p.m. and lay flowers at the statue of the Belarusian literary great. These and other groups planned to stage a march through downtown Minsk, but the Minsk city government banned the event.
About 2,000 people took part in the Dzen Voli demonstration last year. A few hundred people, mostly youths, attempted to march down Minsk's main thoroughfare, Independence Avenue, but police in full riot gear blocked their path at the first crossroads. The demonstrators eventually dispersed and no arrests were reported.