Military parade in Minsk marks Independence Day

A military parade marking Belarus’ Independence Day was staged in front of the Minsk City Hero obelisk at the center of the Belarusian capital on July 3 with an estimated crowd of between 20,000 and 30,000 in attendance.

The parade, broadcast live by all national television channels, was commanded by Deputy Defense Minister Yury Merantsow and reviewed by Defense Minister Leanid Maltsaw.

The parade involved roughly 2,700 servicemen representing the Armed Forces, the interior ministry’s Interior Troops, the emergency management ministry and the border control service.

In attendance were Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka, top government officials and lawmakers, as well as Mr. Lukashenka’s youngest son, Mikalay, and the boy’s mother, who is said to be not married to the president.

The military parade culminated in a 15-minute drill show by a company of honor guards and was followed by a procession of athletes led by 2004 Olympic sprint champion Yuliya Nestsyarenka.

A crowd of 1,600 people on a special stand raised sheets of different colors, creating various pictures.

The procession included a huge dragon figure, which symbolized the coming Beijing Olympics.