Civil society in Belarus is increasing its influence
On May 7th, Minsk City Executive Committee refused to enter into a contract for the construction of a recreational centre in the centre of Minsk.
Protests against the compact construction become an important factor in the civil society formation and consolidation in the capital. These developments had non-political nature.
The Minsk City Executive Committee’s non-approval of a construction project to be implemented in a green area in the city centre was a result of protests by about a thousand local residents who sent their appeals to the Prosecutor’s Office and the State Control Committee asking to abandon the project.
This movement’s mobilization potential is fairly large, given its non-political nature. As a rule, such protests are carried out as pickets and collective appeals to the authorities. In particular, one of these appeals - against the residential building construction on the playground in Tsnianskaya Street - was signed by circa three housand people.
Citizens’ protests and the Minsk City Executive Committee’s decision to waive the construction project do not necessarily have a cause-effect relationship. But clearly, Minsk residents’ civil activity is increasing. In particular, in early April, a number of community initiatives, advocating against sporadic commercial development in vaious Minsk districts signed a memorandum of cooperation.
Organizational core of this residents’ movement is non-registered public association “Evroperspektiva”, which was denied registration by the Justice Ministry two times. The association is led by Victor Yanchurevich, a candidate for Parliament’s Deputy in 2012.
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.