Peaceful Protests and Polish Bullets in Belarus
After showing relative restraint on the night of Belarus's fraudulent presidential election, police and security forces have now started going on the offensive against opposition protesters. And, despite EU sanctions against the regime, they are using ammunition supplied by a Polish company.
MINSK – Monday evening’s peaceful protest in Minsk was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Victory Square, around the Minsk Hero City Obelisk. But police had blocked off the area, so demonstrators followed the opposition’s contingency plan and gathered around the main metro stations instead. At around 10 p.m., the police moved in to suppress the protests, and rumors began circulating that they were escalating the violence of their response.
A barricade was constructed near the Riga shopping center, where about 5,000 demonstrators gathered. Initially, there was no police presence here, and the protest was characteristically peaceful. Occupants of cars and buses in a long traffic jam expressed solidarity with the people in the street. The white-red-white flags of the opposition were everywhere, and people chanted “Zhyve Belarus!” (“Long live Belarus!”). There was no aggression or hooliganism to be found.
It was here that I heard about the main events unfolding at Pushkinskaya metro station, far from the city center. I walked two or three kilometers in that direction, and then flagged down a car for a ride. For me, this is the best way to get around Minsk these days – once you tell the driver that you are a journalist from Poland, he or she will take you anywhere.