Solidarity picket in Minsk: Riot police detain journos, mobile Internet jammed

On Friday, solidarity pickets are being held throughout the country. June, 19 is the last day for collecting signatures for wannabe presidential candidates’ nomination.

As reported earlier, a human chain of several kilometres was spontaneously formed in the course of Thursday’s picket at Independence Square; it lasted until midnight, and even a heavy fall of rain failed to disperse the participants.


People near the Philharmonic are lining up in the direction of Independence Square. Hundreds are already standing in the chain. According to #ControlBY, there are about 500 persons at 19:00 (Minsk time).

19:00 Protesters and passers-by are having difficulty using mobile communication not far from the places of holding pickets. Drivers report that police are blocking the avenue in Surhanau and Kazlou streets.

At about 20:00, riot police detained Belsat TV photo reporter Iryna Arakhouskaya, RFE/RL livestreaming crew Alyaksandra Dynko and Andrey Rabchyk (thousands of viewers were witnessing the detention online), and Reuters cameraman Uladzimir Kostsin; later, TUT.BY photographer Vadzim Zamirouski and Onliner journalist Nastassya Zanko were taken away by policemen.

20:18 People are gathering near the circus and GUM department store. There are many police officers in Victory Square and its vicinity, they are trying to force protesters from the central streets.

20:20 People are forming a chain in Hrushauka residential area. Many drivers are hooting to support the picketers.

20:26 Despite detentions and the presence of riot police, people keep joining the chain from Yakub Kolas Square to Victory Square.

At about 21:00 OMON special forces and plainclothes policemen started detaining people en masse near Gorky Park, the Philarmonic and the monument to Yakub Kolas; some were grabbed near McDonalds at Kastrychnitskaya metro station.

21:45 Security forces continue to walk along the avenue, they are escorted by several buses. People are not allowed to go in the direction of TSUM department store, they are ordered to turn back and leave. Some persons who were simply standing near shops or cafes were also detained.

Independence Avenue (Yakub Kolas Square-Victory Square stretch) is cordoned off.

There are lots of people on both sides of Kastrychnitskaya Square, they are chanting ‘Set free!’

22:00 People are helping others fight off plainclothes policemen.

22:06 Our journalists report that several dozen people were taken to Pershamaiski district police department.

22:22 Brutal detention in Hrushauka:

22:23 Human rights centre Viasna has published a list of the people who have been detained across the country on June, 19. The information will be updated.

22:27 Paddy wagons are driving along central streets, mass detentions are still in progress.

22:28 Iryna Arakhouskauya (Belsat), Alyaksandra Dynko and Andrey Rabchyk (RFE/RL) have been released.

22:41 Riot police and men in civvies are detaining a man near the Palace of Trade Unions:

22:43 Tsentralny district police department has turned off its phones; one cannot get any information about the detainees.

22:54 Minsk now: people are standing near the circus and applauding. Drivers who have been prevented from entering the avenue are tooting horns.

23:00 People are clapping their hands and shouting ‘Set them free!’

23:16 After a short break, security officers resumed grabbing peuple. Independence Avenue, not far from Tsentralny supermarket:

23:26 Minsk does not give up: people are taking to the streets in different parts of the capital. A human chain of people has also lined up on Victors’ Avenue:

23:49 Video of detention near the circus:

00:26 Near the circus, the police are trying to disperse the participants. In turn, they are shouting ‘Shame!’ and chanting ‘Long live Belarus!’

00:36 Some are being dragged into paddy wagons:

Photo: Alisa Hanchar /

Photo: Alisa Hanchar /


  • The presidential election is to take place on August, 9. Belarusian human rights defenders note the continuing trend of increasing repression even during the period of collecting signatures, including against the direct participants in the election, and the escalation of tensions and an atmosphere of fear in society.
  • Syarhei Tsikhanouski, the husband and trustee of presidential hopeful Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, and eight other persons were charged under Art. 342-1 (planning actions that grossly violate public order) of the Criminal Code of Belarus. The above article may carry a punishment of up to 3 years in prison. Belarusian human rights watchdogs recognised defendants in the case as political prisoners.
  • On June 18, wannabe presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka and Eduard Babaryka, his son and campaign chief, were taken to the Department of Financial Investigations. Lawyers were barred from visiting them, and their homes are searched. Later, it became known that charges were brought against the Babarykas; they are allegedly being held in the KGB prison in Minsk.
  • In June, a criminal case was initiated against 15 employees of Belagzprombank. Notably, Viktar Babaryka had been CEO of the bank for about 20 years; he retired on the day when he revealed his presidential ambitions. The bank’s collection of paintings that included masterpieces by Marc Chagall and Chaime Soutine, was confiscated.
  • Since 6 May, a total of 1,316 days of administrative arrest was slapped on 98 Belarusians, according to estimations by human rights centre Viasna. 106 persons got fines to the tune of 90,000 Belarusian rubles. The human rights defenders stress that the authorities resort to the articles of the Code of Administrative Offences for political persecution of dissidents.