In Minsk 1,500 to 2,500 people marched from the October cinema to Bangalor square on Wednesday’s evening.
It was the first protest permitted by the authorities, and the most mass so far this year.
Quiet unusually, participants of the march were carrying national red-green flags alongside white-red-white flags. There were many people who joined a street protest for the first time.
The protesters adopted a resolution saying that Decree No3 – known as the ‘law against social parasites’ – contradicts nine articles of the Constitution and international obligations of Belarus, violates human rights, imposes a socially unfair tax and forced labor.
The resolution included both political and economic demands: to adopt a new economic policy aimed at creating new jobs, abolish the contract system, and hold fair and free elections.
The protesters insisted that the authorities should fulfill all demands, including the abolition of the decree and release of all people detained during the marches, by 25 March.
Mothers and students protest in other cities
In Mogilev, about 500 people gathered in the city centre for an hour-long protest.
The march was attended by MP Igor Marzalyuk, who engaged in a heated discussion with the protesters. According to him, the amendments to the decree would be adopted on 25 March.
In Grodno, a peaceful march was attended by some 1000 citizens – mostly mothers with children, pensioners and students.
The opposition had asked the local authorities to issue a permission for the march, but their request was declined.
About 40 arrests in Minsk
After the end of the marches, detentions, often very violent, began in all the three cities.
According to human rights activists, 40 people were detained in Minsk.
At least 8 people were arrested in Mogilev; reports about detentions came from Grodno as well.
Law enforcements agents, who carried out detentions, were dressed as civilians.
In several cases passers-by managed to defend the detainees. Police did not react to the requests for help, the media wrote.
On Thursday morning the detainees were brought to courts for trials.
24 people, including 5 young women, were brought to the court of the Central district of Minsk, TUT.BY reports on 16 March.
Some 20 detainess would be subject to trials in two other districts of Minsk.
In many cases relatives of the arrested protesters have learned about detentions only the following morning, the media note.