Minsk, 'Freedom Day'

Demonstrations in many cities in memory of the Belarus declaration of independence, later engulfed by Soviet Russia. Police and security forces occupy the city centers with soldiers and trucks. The Catholic Vicar of Minsk, Jurij Kosobutsky: We pray for our suffering people, and for an end to political repression.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – The Den Volo or “Day of Freedom” demonstrations proclaimed by the opposition to President Lukashenko, were held yesterday throughout Belarus on the occasion of the anniversary of the independence of Belarus after the First World War. The rallies took place despite the prohibitions and repressions of the authorities who had denied the permits.

The independence of the People’s Republic of Belarus was declared on the night between 24 and 25 March 1918. But the nation born for the first time in history survived less than a year, engulfed by Soviet Russia (and partly by Poland).

Yet it was a decisive event for the affirmation of the identity of the White Russians. In recent years, this anniversary has been used by small groups of opponents to express protests, but yesterday most of the Belarusian people gathered on the streets.

As the opposition leaders say, “the future of the country cannot be based only on its past”. Entrepreneur and social activist Jurij Zisser posted on “Enough with armchair activism and the passive expectation of a miracle, it’s time to take action for a real improvement in our life, to be achieved with by our own strength”. Leaving aside ideological ghettos, adds Zisser, “we need to develop our civil society, starting from ideas that can unite us and find a resonance in our souls”.

Unlike in previous years, the Belarusian authorities suspended the national holiday of March 25, occupying the city centers with police blocks and parades of avtozaki, the vans for the arrests of dissidents. Particular attention was paid to schools and universities (photo 2), to prevent the marches of the youngest. At the Minsk Polytechnic, students were forced to sign a declaration against unauthorized demonstrations, without which they were forbidden to enter the building.

The opposition, which however managed to mobilize many thousands of people in all the main cities, reported various “provocations” by the police. The police allegedly tried to instigate the protesters into violent reactions, to justify the repression, as reported at the Almaz factory in Minsk and in various other places.

Belarusian Catholics expressed their participation in the memory of Independence with a message from the episcopal vicar of the archdiocese of Minsk, Bishop Jurij Kosobutskij (photo 3), who recalled on his Facebook page: “This date has opened a new page in the history of our people; March 25 is a special day of prayer for our homeland, for Belarus. We pray for our suffering people, and for an end to the political repressions that take place throughout the country, while every day we hear of new arrests and other forms of persecution of citizens for their opinions and their civil positions”.

The prelate insisted on his appeal to “pray to stop the violence against our people and our beloved Belarus”, to affirm the values ​​”of unity, solidarity, mutual respect and mutual support among all those who live in our country, people also of different nationalities, of different opinions and religious convictions “. The diocesan vicar explained that he personally prays “for political prisoners, and for all those who await God’s help, for our people”.

Independence Day is also the day of the white-red-white flags (photo 4), the colours declared outlawed by the authorities (the official flag is red-green), but which were established as early as 1917, when the Belarusian soldiers carried the new flag to the front, to be recognized on the battlefield. Under these colours the Belarusian patriots also fought against the Bolsheviks. For this reason, the banners were banned in Soviet times and have been a thorny issue even for the post-Soviet power of the last 30 years.


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