Hundreds turn out for \"silent\" protests in Brest, Mahilyow


An estimated crowd of about 600 people attended a "silent" anti-government protest in central Brest, said BelaPAN.

Heeding an online call for staging weekly protests in the central squares of their localities to express discontent with Alyaksandr Lukashenka`s policies, hundreds of Brest residents attempted to gather in Lenin Square at around 7 p.m. but the venue had been sealed off by police officers. Youths were seen playing basketball and badminton and riding bicycles in the square in what was described as regional competitions held on the occasion of Olympic Day and the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Brest Fortress siege by Nazi troops.

The protesters walked away from the square along pedestrian Savetskaya Street, occasionally clapping. As the crowd reached the TsUM department store, it swelled to some 600 protesters. They stood in front of the store for about 30 minutes before walking back toward the intersection between Pushkin and Karl Marx Streets near Lenin Square and dispersing. More than five people, including journalist Mikhail Ilyin, were arrested by police during the event.

A similar protest in Mahilyow was attended by more than 200 people. They were also unable to enter the central square, which was closed off to the public, and opted to gather in a park across the street. The protesters sat on benches and clapped occasionally. Police officers were present at the scene but said that they were guarding activists of the pro-government Belarusian National Youth Union, who were standing nearby and handing out fliers advertising a war remembrance event in the city. No arrests were reported in Mahilyow.