On 31 May, pickets were held across the country to collect signatures for the nomination of alternative presidential candidates.
- In regional cities and district centers, Belarusians gathered to sign for their candidates to be registered by the Belarusian Central Election Commission (CEC).
- In some places, police officers urged people to disperse, because “the picket to collect signatures turns into a rally.”
- In some cities, activists were detained in the morning or arrested at pickets. In response to police actions, people in different cities chanted “Shame”, “Freedom” and other
- Passing by drivers who honked in support to those picketing were lated stopped and fined by traffic police.
On 31 May, people gathered near the collectors of signatures at Komarovka market to sign for Tikhanovskaya, Tsepkalo, Babariko and other applicants. The police asked people to disperse.
At different times, people chanted “Release!” and “Freedom” in support of popular blogger Sergey Tikhanovsky, his associates and other detainees in Grodno. Several people were detained there, including Young Front leader Denis Urbanovich and European Belarus activist Maxim Vinyarsky.
Unidentified men in civilian clothes put them a minibus with tinted windows. Nikolai Statkevich, one of Belarus’ opposition politicians, was detained and taken in an unknown location while heading for a picket. Three of them were later given 15 days of administrative detention.
According to human rights activists, about two thousand people gathered at pickets and in lines at peak times.
Signature collection for Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a trustee and wife of Sergey Tikhanovsky, started at 12 am on the site near the Belarus cinema. At the same time, opponents of the battery factory construction gathered on Lenin Square.
At about 12.30 pm they went to Sovetskaya Street and stood in line to put their signatures for Tikhanovskaya. At that time, the line was about 500 meters. The central pedestrian walkway was filled with people too.
In the center of Vitebsk, a several hundred meters long queue has gathered to signature collectors for nominating candidates running for president of Belarus.
On 31 May, initiative groups of Victor Babariko, Valery Tsepkalo, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and other candidates worked near the Marko-City shopping and entertainment center.
At some point, the police asked people who stood in lines and demanded to disperse. People in response began to chant “Long live Belarus!” and “We believe, we can, we will win!”.
In Gomel, several hundred people gathered to leave their signatures for presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Half an hour after the start of the collection of signatures, policemen demanded people to disperse.
In response to this, people began to clap their hands and shout “Shame!” The police appealed to the members of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s initiative group: “You do not have the right to collect signatures.”
When asked why they are not allowed to collect signatures in support of Tikhanovskaya, one of the policemen answered: “Because the picket to collect signatures turns into a rally.”
Initiative groups of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Victor Babariko, Olga Kovalkova and Alexander Tabolich collect signatures were held on Sovetskaya Square. The longest queue was in front of the tent where the initiative group of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was housed.
The line stretched for several hundred meters. From time to time, passing by cars honked at people standing at the square. People applauded and chanted: “Long live Belarus” and “Freedom!”. Senior citizens, youth, and families with small children were patiently waiting in line.
People were heard discussing the arrest of blogger Sergey Tikhanovsky who was detained in Grodno on 29 May. Some of them came to express solidarity with those detained, others to leave their signatures for the nomination of presidential candidates.
Here, Belarusians gathered on the square near the Atrium shopping center to sign up for Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Nikolai Kozlov, Sergey Cherechnya and Valery Tsepkalo.
Olga Kovalkova, co-chairperson of the Belarusian Christian Democracy (BCD) party, also came to the picket. The line of people who wanted to sign up stretched for more than a hundred meters. Some of them stood in the rain for hours.
According to TUT.BY users, as well as various Belarusian telegram channels, residents of Orsha, Lida, Molodechno, Zhlobin, Stolbtsov, Rechitsa and other cities came to pickets to put their signatures for alternative candidates.
Human rights activists report that about 20 people were detained in different cities of Belarus, including three persons from the initiative group of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
Recall that the CEC registered 15 of 55 initiative groups. To officially become a presidential candidate, each of them will have to collect 100,000 signatures until 19 June. The names of the candidates will be announced in mid July, the election in Belarus will be held on 9 August.