On Friday, 4 September, riot police and plain clothed men brutally detained students of Minsk State Linguistic University (MSLU) right inside the university building.
The students were singing “La Marseillaise” (the national anthem of France), when detentions started in the university hall. The students reported that there were three buses without number plates in the courtyard of the university with riot police officers inside.
“There were several people from the administration in the lobby. Everyone was shocked,” eyewitnesses said.
At least five students were detained, according to Euroradio journalists who were covering the events from the university live.
A second year student of the Interpretation Faculty described the detentions:“We were singing Le Marseillaise, when riot police broke in and started shouting ‘B***s’, if you don’t go to class, everyone will be taken away.’ They started grabbing guys.
They just shouted ‘You, b***, shut up, or we’ll take you too!’ They called us different names. And all the girls who tried to beat off a fourth year guy were pushed away. And the administration stood there and did nothing!”
Victoria, a fifth year student of the Interpretation Faculty, whose boyfriend was detained, said: “OMON [riot police], at least 20 people broke into the building. They immediately attacked the guys. Sasha did not resist, he repeated: ‘I am not resisting, I am not resisting.’ He was taken to the bus.”
Victoria ran after him and saw that there were already “four or five people” in the bus. “They brought another one in front of me, they hit him with a knee in the back, I saw.” The girl said that representatives of the university administration did not react to the detentions.
According to Victoria, all buses with riot police left but the students saw a plainclothed man entering the university building. Later, the students met with rector Natalya Baranova. By this time, parents came to the university, they demanded the administration to protect their children.
They also asked the university administration to apply to the prosecutor’s office.
According to Baranova, law enforcement officers viewed what was happening at the university as an illegal mass event. The rector contacted Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Gennady Kazakevich and reported that the MSLU administration was aware of the students’ action.
“People stood and sang, they did not touch anyone. Yes, they had flags, but this is not a reason for detention!” said one of those present. “I have the same opinion,” said Natalya Baranova. “We will protect the children, a permit regime will be introduced,” she added.
After the detentions, about 150 students gathered near the main university with banners and white-red-white flags as a sign of protest and solidarity.
The official representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Olga Chemodanova told TUT.BY that the students were detained by police officers and not riot police. “They were detained as part of the administrative process. Not for today’s offenses, but for those committed earlier.”
The detainees were taken to the Partizansky District Department of Internal Affairs. All five of them were prosecuted for violation of the rules of organization of mass events (Part 2 of Art. 23.34 of the Administrative Code) and later released to the university.