Social March frightened authorities
Social March “For Justice” was held in Minsk on November 4. According to the organizers, about 3 thousand people took part in the action. The participants of the action addressed the authorities with social demands: to stop the permanent rise of prices, to carry out economic reforms in the country, to restore benefits, to give freedom to private business, to raise salaries and pensions. Moreover, the demonstrators insisted on release of political prisoners and a free election in the country. Provocations were held during the peaceful action. They were obviously executed under scrutiny of Special Forces.
The Social March was started near the Academy of Sciences. The start was peaceful; a brass band was playing, people came keeping transparencies, white-red-white and parties’ flags. The action was supported by activists of the Belarusian People’s Front Party, Party Belarusian of Communists, United Civil Party, Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Gramada), independent trade unions, public organizations of liquidators of the Charnobyl tragedy consequences, entrepreneurs, pensioners, students, workers.
The action was held under the following slogans: “Get Benefits Back!”, “We Demand Adequate Living Standard!”, “We Demand a Pay Rise!”, “Authorities Rob the People,” “Shame on Elected Authorities Who Deprived Us of Benefits,” “Stop Rise of Communal Payments,” “Liquidators Support Social Guarantees,” “Hands Off People’s Pockets!”, “Release Political Prisoners!”, “We Demand a Free Election!”
It was obvious from the outside that the two opposite groups were deliberately picking on each other. Activists of the democratic parties did not interfere with the wrangle between anarchists and fascists who refused to obey to the demands of one of the action’s organizers, Communist Party leader Siargey Kaliakin. Moreover, the anarchists made numerous attempts to head the column pushing the people with national flags away and walking out to the road from the pavement. They shouted out radical slogans, just like fascists.
In Surganau Street the wrangle grew into a real massacre. The rogues were fighting right in the roadway, beating each other with their fists, feet, breaking heads with their flags’ staffs. The fight lasted for 5-7 minutes, but there were neither police nor OMON around! Several OMON officers in muftis, however, were walking around talking on radio transmitters. Probably they were in charge of the process?
Nevertheless, OMON commander Yury Padabed and several dozens of officers came only after the fight had been over. They didn’t touch the fascists but rushed to the head of the column where democratic activists were marching peacefully.
Having taken pictures (which are likely to be shown on the state TV channel to demonstrate that such fascist rogues take part in the oppositions actions), both fascists and anarchists left. Together. As if there had been no fight some minutes ago…
The Social March continued, but now assisted by the OMON officers and armoured “MAZ” vehicles. The demonstrators managed to reach Bangalor Square without incidents. There a meeting with parties’ leaders was held and a resolution was adopted. The participants of the meeting demanded to recall the law on benefits abolition, to restore the benefits cancelled, to abolish the provisions of decree # 29 on forced working contracts and edict # 760, to ensure freedom of private business, to halt changes in the pensionary laws which would aggravate the situation of those who work in harmful conditions, to take measures on domicile costs reduction, to stop the rise of prices.
Several dozens of people, mostly members of youth organizations “Malady Front” and “Bunt,” came to Kastrychnitskaya Square at 2 p.m. they marched along the Niezalezhnastsi Avenue passing by the KGB building to Niezalezhnastsi Square, keeping a transparency “Bring Benefits Back.” The young people spent some time near the House of Government, sang “Magutny Bozha” (Belarusian national anthem) and left.
A lot of democratic activists couldn’t arrive to Minsk before the action. Police officers were guarding the apartments from the early morning. Head of the organization committee of the Social March Valery Ukhnaliou was detained in the morning in Bangalor Square where he had brought transparencies. Ukhnaliou was released in half an hour.
“There were many ordinary people - and that is the most important thing about the March, since the situation is not “hot” yet, a significant increase of prices will come soon. In the near future social protests will gather many people.
As I expected, the action wasn’t held without provocations. The fight of fascists and anarchists was a pure provocation. I’m sure it was led by the authorities and Special Forces. They were to show that extremists take part in such social actions. A good picture for BT (Belarusian Television) was taken. This gives us a reason to think over the organization of meetings and a more active work of security,” leader of the Party of Communists Belarusian Siargey Kaliakin told press-center of Charter’97.