Organizers to appeal ban on May Day demonstration


The organizers of a May Day demonstration in Minsk plan to file an appeal with a court against the city authorities' decision not to permit the event, Syarhey Kalyakin, chairperson of the "Spravedlivy Mir" (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left, told reporters in Minsk on April 27.

Syarhey KalyakinThe "Spravedlivy Mir" (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left, the Belarusian Party of Working People and the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party wanted to hold the rally in Peoples' Friendship Park near Bangalore Square, which is officially designated for "mass events." However, the city government said on April 26 that another event would be held in the park on that day.

Mr. Kalyakin accused the authorities of flouting the constitution's Article 35, which guarantees the freedom of assembly and street demonstrations. "Today the Mass Events Law has become a de facto ban on such, the authorities don't even bother to explain normally the grounds on which the demonstration has been prohibited, are reluctant to talk to the organizers about a possible change of venue and time," he stressed.

In the last two months, Mr. Kalyakin said, the authorities have permitted only two out of 120 rallies against declining living standards.

"At the May Day rally we wanted to raise the most pressing social and economic problems. The authorities became afraid that people would take to the streets, which could prompt them to unite for defending their rights," Mr. Kalyakin said.

The Belarusian authorities have no answers to a question "why we, despite all assurances of rapid growth, trail most other members of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] and the EurAsEC [Eurasian Economic Community] in terms of living standards," Mr. Kalyakin said.