Belarusian opposition unable to retain people’s interest in street protests
A traditional Chernobyl Path rally was held in Minsk on April 26th, which followed the authorised route from the Oktyabr cinema to the Chernobyl chapel near the Bangalore square. Despite the fact that organisers were well prepared, the opposition rally gathered a small number of participants (several hundred), which was probably due to the violent clampdown of the opposition rally on Freedom Day on March 25th and persecution of participants that followed (fines, administrative arrests, criminal charges). The opposition attempted to attract more participants by including socio-economic slogans and demands on the rally’s agenda, including the demand to abolish the decree on social dependants, but to no avail. That said, the authorities also used preventive detentions and arrests against opposition leaders, banned some demonstrations in the regions, and made changes to the authorised format of the May Day demonstration to be held by the opposition in Minsk, in order to step-up disagreements among the opposition and reduce participation. Apparently, thanks to enhanced repressions and the beginning of the ‘dacha’ season, the authorities have reduced the protest movement in Belarus to nothing.
During searches of social and "green" activists and anarchists, law enforcement has seized computers, mobile phones and publications. The authorities have also exerted additional pressure on supporters of unauthorized street protests and independent lawyers, who represented defendants in the White Legion case. The security services have stepped up the persecution of opponents before the street protests announced by the opposition. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities aspire that participants in street protests would reduce in number and that the low interest of the population to socio-political agenda before the local election campaign would retain.