A tank that was to take part in Saturday’s dress rehearsal of the Independence Day parade crashed into a tree and knocked down a lamppost in Independence Avenue in Minsk.
Fortunately, there were no people next to the lamppost, and no one was killed or injured. The tank man had a miraculous escape.
In the video filmed by a witness, a column of tanks was moving along the central streets at a quite great speed. Syarhei Vaznyak, a graduate of Sverdlovsk Higher Tank and Artillery School, leaves open the possibility of a human error, but believes that some technical malfunction might have caused the incident.
According to Vaznyak, it is the safety that matters the most. The vehicle weighing more than 40 tons should not drive along the main avenue of Minsk, he says. Moreover, but for the traffic police, a tragedy would not have been avoided: a drunken passer-by who was about to throw himself in front of a tank:
The opposition is also preparing for the event. Ex-political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich is going to hold a protest rally in Kastrychnitskaya Square and have a minute of silence for those who died when liberating the capital of Belarus in July, 1944.
“This is a sad and tragic day. After all, Belarus lost one third of its population in that war. Has that fact get us closer to independence? I doubt,” the politician said.
However, the authorities are set to mark the day with fanfare. In May, president Alyaksandr Lukashenka announced his intention to hold an event that would will linger on in public memory.
“We should not spare funds on it! I would not say the amount is very big for staging a military parade,” Lukashenka stressed.
However, the Belarusian Defense Ministry has refused to specify how much money was allocated for the event. It should be noted that every year these parades and rehearsals foul up roads in Minsk. According to the experts’ estimates, repairing one kilometer of damaged roadsurface costs $3 mln.
The official Independence day is celebrated on July 3, on the day of liberation of the Belarusian capital from German invaders. Such decision was taken by the republican referendum held in1996. Earlier the Independence day had been commemorated on July 27, its celebration being coincided with the day of passing the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1990.