Police and security forces did not allow people to celebrate the Freedom Day in Minsk. Police brought out special equipment to disperse potential demonstrations. Belsat.eu presents the chronicle of the March 25th events.
High numbers of police forces were observed in the city center already in the morning. Besides the police, special police and interior troops, there were reports of the people armed with machine guns without identification signes.
The protesters were planning to gather near the building of the Academy of Sciences, but the venue was blocked by the police. More than a dozen of paddy wagons and buses with riot police and internal troops were also round the corner. The surrounding streets were blocked by the traffic police. At 12 o’clock, the police closed the “Park Chalyuskintsau”, “Academy of Sciences” and “Yakub Kolas Square” metro stations.
At 13:00 hours, the office of the human rights center “Viasna” was raided by the riot police. A member of “Viasna” Syarhei Sys wrote on “Facebook” the following: “riot police broke into the office of “Viasna”. People were ordered to lie on the floor,” BelaPAN news agency reported. In total, there were 60 people detained, including the leader of “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski, a human rights activist Anastasia Loika and chairman of the NGO “Belarusian Helsinki Committee” (BHC) Aleh Hulak.
On the eve of the Freedom Day, a lot of “preventive” arrests of politicians and activists took place. Thus, politician Uladzimir Nyaklyayeu was detained on the way from Warsaw to Minsk, also co-chairman of the Belarusian Christian Democracy arrested Dzyanis Sadouski was detained.
Gathering of protesters was scheduled for 14:00 hours. At that time, the riot police and interior troops started detaining people who had managed to get to the place of assembly – the Academy of Sciences. The police used force, dragging people into the bus, without making exceptions for women or the elderly.
Another group of people had gathered on Yakub Kolas Square. There were policemen in helmets with shields and batons. They cut out a group of people. There were several people detained. The policemen with shields blocked the passage of people.
Mass detentions began on Independence Avenue. Here demonstrators, including journalists, were forcefully dragged into paddy wagons and buses. The total number of detainees exceeded one hundred people. Later the “mass arrests” spread on Yakub Kolas Square. Now the number of the arrested is several hundreds.
About four dozen people were detained by the riot police on October Square. People were thrown into the paddy wagons.
In fact, all the protesters were divided into several groups and detentions began at the same time – in the vicinity of the Academy of Sciences, on Yakub Kolas Square, Independence Avenue, and on Kastrychnitskaya Square.