Silent opposition rally in Minsk

Anna Forostenko

Opposition activists rallied silently in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on Monday in support of their demand for international investigation into the disappearance of President Alexander Lukashenko’s political opponents.

The peaceful action under the slogan “We Remember” was brutally dispersed by police.Some activists were beaten,others were arrested.Earlier,the authorities had denied the opposition permission to hold a rally. But on Monday,about 200 silent protesters lined up the Independence Avenue in central Minsk.

They were holding portraits of their missing comrades along with posters demanding international probes into their disappearance.The action lasted about half an hour.Although no special permission is required for this type of protest, its youth organizers were arrested.It’s not the first time the Belarusian opposition is trying to draw attention to the disappearance of President Lukashenko’s opponents.

In the opinion of Leonid Zaiko,a Belarusian analyst and head of the Strategia think-tank, the problem concerns everyone.In this case, the opposition represents the interests of civil society because those who went missing were not just politicians.The first to disappear was Supreme Soviet deputy Viktor Gonchar. An eloquent lawyer, he attempted to organize alternative presidential elections.Businessmen Anatoly Krasovsky was the next one.

A similar fate befell Lukashenko’s former supporters whose views differed slightly from his own, like it happened to ex-Interior Minister Yury Zakharenko,and a journalist and personal cameraman of Lukashenko,Dmitry Zavadsky.Leader of the United Civil Party Anatoly Lebedko feels more protests are looming.

Belarusians can forgive many things:poor state management and corruption.But the overwhelming majority of people will not forgive the deaths of those who refused to look at the surrounding world through the eyes of Belarusian rulers.

Meanwhile, the opposition is planning to stage a rally in Brest on August 30 to press the government to join the International Convention against Enforced Disappearances.The date was not chosen at random.August 30 is the International Day of the Disappeared.


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