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People will be allowed to clap only parade participants, Minsk public security police chief says
On Independence Day (July 3), the Minsk police will view clapping hands as a violation of public order unless people applaud World War II veterans, parade participants and artists, Ihar Yawseyew, deputy head of the Minsk city police department/public security police chief, told reporters on Monday, BelaPAN said.
During so-called silent protests, which have already been staged across Belarus on three consecutive Wednesday in the framework of an anti-government campaign called “Revolution through Social Networks,” participants chant no slogans and display no signs but clap hands.
When asked whether the police would regard clapping hands as a manifestation of a protest and whether the police would arrest clapping people, Colonel Yawseyew said, “If this is applause to our veterans and military servicemen, people certainly may clap.”
Mr. Yawseyew pointed out that Minsk’s Kastrychnitskaya Square, a major venue of silent protests, is closed for “mass events,” and that to hold an event in any other area in the capital city, the organizers should obtain permission from the city government in accordance with the established procedure.
“People will not be arrested on July 3 if there is no violation of public order on their part,” said Ivan Kubrakow, head of the interior ministry’s public order directorate.
When asked how police officers would distinguish silent protesters from other walking people, Mr. Kubrakow answered that policemen could see who formed a crowd and hindered the passage of passers-by.
During the last unsanctioned demonstration, staged on June 22, its participants prevented “ordinary” people, including those with small children and prams, from passing by on sidewalks and they had to step onto the roadway, Mr. Kubrakov noted.
According to him, all personnel of the Minsk police garrison and Interior Troops units will be involved in the maintenance of public order on July 3. The area in front of the Hero City Minsk obelisk, the venue of the Independence Day parade, and other venues of celebrations will be fenced off with railings. Ninety-five checkpoints equipped with security metal detector gates are to be set up.