Anti-nuclear action in Minsk on April 25, 2011

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Action in front of a market hall in Minsk
... and at Pushkin Square before the police action started
Arrest of the activists by civil cops
One of the German activists taken by a civil cop

An international action of some 40 activists from Belarus, Germany and Poland took place in Minsk the day before Chernobyl Day 2011. In the most seriously by the Chernobyl disaster affected country, this action was supposed to remind of the deadly threats of nuclear power and to show objection against the Belarusian's government's plans to build a nuclear power plant in Astraviec.

Due to the Belarusian's state repression against concerned citizens most political actions are illegal in this country. For this reason the action neeeded to be designed to be short and effective. To avoid contact to police, it was just a 5-10 minute event – showing anti-nuclear banners on populated squares and distributing flyers. The first action worked out well at a shopping mall and the people could disappear without problems after their session. When they repeated the action at another highly frequented place, at the Pushkin Square, within five minutes special police forces jumped into them and arrested 12 activists.

A red van and a second civil car had stopped next the street, releasing men in black suits jumping out to the activists. They teared the ones with the banners down to the ground and pushed them into their cars. Others, who could escape, were hunted by them for several hundreds of meters. Like a kidnapping action. Six German activists, five Belarusians and a Polish activist were arrested by this police unit (probably special riot police unit).

They didn't receive food during the first day of there arrest, and later they were only provided with a little amount of food after the German embassy had put pressure on the Belraussian authorities. They didn't have blankets in jail, although it was cold, and the water they received was bad. "Totally normal", a Belarusian activist commented, but in conflict with Belarussias commitments to several international treaties.

After one day, a court judged everyone guilty to the following "charges": showing banners, screaming in public, disturbing pedestrians. Additionally to one (the Belarusians) or two days (the foreign activists) in jail, everyone was punished with a fine between 550,000 and 700,000 BYR each (120-160 EUR). The foreigners are not allowed to enter Belarus for at least 3 years.

Another activist, who tried to take pictures in front of the court when the prisoners should be judged, was violently arrested by police. However, taking pictures of police is basically not illegal in Belarus. Later they accused him for "screaming in public" to some ten days in prison.

This action, and particularly the reaction of Belarusian authorities, brought much international media attention, especially from Germany, to the case and to Belarus' pro-atomic policy.

Media coverage

More Information

  • OstWestBrücke - information on the impacts of Chernobyl to Belarus, and projects to help German