The actions of youth opposition groups were met with the “soft repression” from police.
The opposition youth organization “Young Front” traditionally marked the St. Valentines day with a city marathon – they went from one embassy of the European countries to another, bringing the messages “Belarus – to Europe!” and “Freedom to political prisoners!”. The police blocked the Liberty Square in the center of the Minsk old town, the gathering place for the yong activists. Surprisingly, at 18.10 the police retreated and the Embassy Run began. The police followed the group (about 100 people) but did not create major obstacles to the embassy visits. The embassies are spread through the city center, that is why the young people walk rather long distances down the streets, chanting and waving their banners. Many cars greeted them with hooting. Aliaksandr Milinkevich and his wife Ina Kulej joined the group. Remarkably, Milinkevich was the only major opposition politician to attend the action.
Police shortly detained some protesters, but released them an hour later without any charges.
T-Shirts read “Young Front Can't Be Stopped”, “I Love Belarus”
“The Action of Love”
Many participants were wearing the European countries' flags on their shoulders.
A minor scuffle with police.
The youth wing of the Belarusian People's Front also hold it St. Valentines action in Minsk – but several hours earlier. Similarly to their older colleagues, the young activists from different organizations can not put aside their pretensions and coordinate their actions, although sharing the same ideals.
The young man wearing a huge heart signed “I love Belarus” had only a couple of minutes to walk the square. The policemen appeared immediately, tore off his heart away and loaded him into a police wagon.
The organizers were taken to the police stations and eventually released without any punishment.
Photos and captions by Julia Darashkevich