Around 300 people responded to the call by oppositional politicians Mikalai Statkevich and Uladzimir Nyaklyayeu to protest in October Square on 12 September against the rigged parliamentary elections. The gathering in central Minsk started peacefully, but after the authorities tried to provoke the demonstrators, they began to march in protest.
Statkevich and Nyaklyayeu, both presidential candidates in 2010 and former political prisoners, opened the demonstration with speeches describing the unfairness of the elections the day before and the lack of basic democratic principles in Belarus. The organisers were supported by the Malady Front ‘Young Front’ and the solidarity movement Razam! ‘Together!’. Nyaklyayeu said that the two newly elected oppositional deputies were “just appointed to their posts“.
Zmitser Dashkevich, leader of the Malady Front, summed up the general attitude towards the protesters: “Frankly speaking, nobody is interested either in the elections or in the protest.” After the police tried to detain some of the speakers, a scuffle with the police forces – some of them in Russia outfits – started. But the group of protesters was able to prevent further action by the authorities and spontaneously decided to march to Independence Square. There at around 20:00, two hours after the start of the gathering, the participants dispersed with no further major aggravation.
This article was first published on “Belarus Votes 2016”.