Organizers of Chernobyl anniversary demonstration to ask for permission to march on roadway

The organizers of a traditional "Charnobylski Shlyakh" (Path of Chernobyl) demonstration to be staged in Minsk on April 26 will ask the city government for permission to march on the roadway, Dzyanis Sadowski, executive secretary of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party, told BelaPAN.

"We will ask the authorities to set aside one lane for the demonstrators," Mr. Sadowski said. "We also want guarantees that our sound reinforcement system will not be seized."

The demonstration to mark the 27th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident would begin near the Kastrychnik movie theater at 6 p.m. on April 26. People would march along Independence Avenue and Surhanava Street to Peoples' Friendship Park in Bangalore Square for a final rally. The demonstration would end with a flower-laying ceremony at the so-called Chernobyl chapel in the area of Bangalore Square.

An application for permission to stage the demonstration is expected to be filed on April 9. It will be signed by representatives of Belarusian Christian Democracy, the Belarusian Popular Front, the United Civic Party, the Movement for Freedom, the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party, and an environmental group called Ecodom.

Last year, the city government denied permission for demonstrators to march on the roadway, explaining that they would obstruct traffic.

The Charnobylski Shlyakh demonstration has been staged by opposition forces in Minsk every year since 1988. A crowd of up to 50,000 took part in the demonstration on the 10th anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl accident, with participants overturning cars and clashing with riot police. Dozens were injured and more than 200 were arrested. About 10,000 people took part in the demonstration on the 20th anniversary in 2006. In 2011, the Minsk city government banned a march along Surhanava Street and therefore the demonstration was limited to a rally near Bangalore Square with some 500 people in attendance. Last year's Charnobylski Shlyakh demonstration drew up to 1000 people. No arrests were reported during the event, which had been sanctioned by the Minsk City Executive Committee.