Demonstrators led by Statkevich demand end to Lukashenka’s rule
A crowd of some 200 people led by prominent Belarusian opposition politician Mikalay Statkevich marched through downtown Minsk on July 3, marking the 73rd anniversary the liberation of Minsk in World War II, which is officially celebrated in Belarus as Independence Day.
While walking past the head office of the KGB, Mr. Statkevich stopped to address the crowd. “The people working in this building have no moral right to be called officers,” he said. He noted that this past spring the KGB had detained dozens of patriots just in order to substantiate the “madman”’s allegation that they were militants and terrorists. The crowd responded by chanting “Shame!”
“The more we protest the exercise, the less threat it poses,” Mr. Statkevich said after the crowd reached Independence Square. “I’m opposed to the presence of any foreign troops in Belarus, especially troops of a country that is at war. Nobody knows what Putin may do, especially in the run-up to a presidential election in Russia. That’s why we should respond to the danger.”
He expressed gratitude to those present for having the courage to take part in the demonstration. “We have confirmed today that this avenue and this square belong to us,” he said. “There will be more and more of us protesting until the country becomes normal.”
Mr. Statkevich had invited reporters to escort him from his home to the center of Minsk in order to avoid being captured by police on his way to the demonstration. After the taxi he was traveling in was twice pulled over by traffic police officers, Mr. Statkevich continued on foot, accompanied by reporters.