Belarus Election and Protests, Live from The Filter^:
Day 1: Introduction and Links (click here)
Exclusive conversations with people in Minsk [from last night] (click here)
Best Place for Live news: Publius Pundit
UPDATES (Latest News at the TOP)
It seems that a small group of protesters are contained in the square, and intend to camp overnight. They are surrounded by police who've prevented others from joining them and those that leave are being arrested. There's been a call for others to join them at 6:30pm tomorrow night.
3:38 AM, Hitroe Radio, via LJ user samuel_smith
The police officers will support Lukashenka all the way to the end. The possibility that ordinary officers will switch sides is out of the question. We were talking to them for 2 hours without raising our voices, and there is no chance that they will switch sides. If they had an order, they would kill. On the 19th they were put on high alert five times, they were angry and ready to attack, but the alerts were cancelled. Today they are even more ready, but...There are very few people left on the square, 1,000 at most. People say Kozulin has already left, and I don't know about Milinkevich.
Mar. 21st, 2006 @ 01:54 am
There are around 1,00o people at the square. They are concentrated in two groups. One is at the steps of Profsoyuz Palace, watching the PA equipment. The other groupo is standing around the tents. There are around 25 flags over the crowd. The public transportation has already stopped [in Minsk and most post-Soviet cities 1 am is the standard time for this - IL]. I predict that the same number of people will stay overnight. I keep being told that those who leave the square one by one get arrested.
Minsk, March 21, 1:18 AM
They are starting to surround us. At the square, around a thousand people are remaining. The police are saying that they recieved an order to clear the square from the protestors
There's a flickr gallery
Hundreds of special police units are stationed in the backyards of the buildings adjacent to the October square.
UPDATE Charter 97 are there
Sons of Alyaksandr Milinkevich have come to the square. Vitaut and Alyaxandr told that they were detained not far from the square and taken to one of the police department of the city. Policemen wanted to draw up a report against them for violation of the article 156 of the Administrative Code (petty hooliganism). However, when a police colonel has found out that the sons of Milinkevich were detained, he tore the report and took them to the square in a personal car
Milinkevich’s two sons have been gone for forty minutes after leaving to look for food, their cars are empty, and their cell phones are not answering. In effect, they have disappeared and nobody knows where they are.
Check out Rob Mayer and Ivan Lenin for the latest. I have chatted with over a dozen people in Belarus over the last few hours, and they have as little information as we do. Some of them have claimed that the tents have now gone but alternative reports are still saying that the protests continue. Although I have only gleaned small amounts of factual information, I have learnt a lot about the process of regime change:
- what do you think of the election?
- what do you think of all this?
- I somehow did not reflect on it
UPDATES (latest news at the top)
Charter 97 seems to back online
22:50 Policemen have just tried to seize electric generator to stop the concert on October square. The single candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich talked to them, and they left. People were scanning: “Police is with people!”
22:25 Police orders to close the Central supermarket, which is situated near the October Square, an hour earlier. In this way policemen hope that people would not be able to buy hot tea and food in the shop. However, people are bringing food and hot tea from home
There's video coverage available
Further mention of the military in Karl Marx st (scroll down)
And there is a rumor going around that in half an hour, the protestors will be brutally attacked. This Guardian article says that, and it is corroborated by other LiveJournal reports, that busloads of troops were inunloaded at Karl Marx St. and have been stationing themselves in neighborhood squares to prevent people from going to October Square.
Gazeta.ru (GR) is reporting (21:37, you may need to scroll) that the number of demonstrators in the centre of the Belarus capital Minsk is now estimated at around 20,000 - a huge increase in a very short time, and frankly, it seems impossible that the numbers could have jumped that far in the space of six minutes...
The meeting continues. Speakers include opposition members, famous writers and musicions. People keep coming and going, but there are always 5 to 6 thousands people remaining. I can see some Georgian flags.
Charter 97 has finally gotten its last hour of updates going. Milinkevich has declared that they will stay on the square until victory and has told people to call everyone they know, and to fetch warm clothes, blankets, and tea. Famous Belorussian artists, singers, and intellectuals are giving speeches and playing music. And the air is festive. Balloons are being sent into the air and people are hopeful. This is the latest as of 8:30 p.m. Minsk time. Lipsky’s report was at 7:30. This makes me very hopeful. RFE/RL confirms at least 15,000 people and the call to stay all night.
His photos are here.
UPDATE 14:22 (est)
According to a source there are no tents in Oktyabrskaya Sq as we speak
Photo's are coming through of the following:
LJ user lipski reports (RUS) from Oktyabrskaya Sq. in Minsk for the second night in a row: weather's good; the square's not blocked; politically active young people decided not to set up a 'tent city' because officials have allegedly confiscated 1,500 tents, but there are plans to put up their own tents, tomorrow or the day after; many flags, including Ukrainian and the EU; many journalists; cars are honking in solidarity; sound is good today - lipski stands across the square from the stage and hears everything; 6,000-7,000 people and this is probably it; tried to put up a tent, but two cops came up and took it away.
As I say though, I'm not sure if they're still there
Photos of Monday's protests from Yahoo. The only up to date information I have found is our own sources in Minsk, who say that the protests are now over. Either this is incorrect or a Filter^ world exclusive...
UPDATE 13:25 est
I have two sources in Minsk - they independently confirm that the protests have finished
Poor translation from Russian RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty says protest over - fewer demonstrators than before
not sure when this photo was taken
There are around 6-7 thousands of people, and looks like there won't be many more (source)
the administration of the Belarusian State University has informed the students, that if they are found on the square instead of being in class, they will be expelled (source)
According to a Belarusian Partisan correspondent, some military vehicles are coming to the nearby Karl Marx Street (source)
Channel 5 reports there are MORE people at Oktyabrskaya Square than there were yesterday!!! The square is packed and more people are coming!!!
Tim Garton-Ash wants your thoughts
`The U.S. does not accept the results,'' White House spokesman Scott McClellan said today in Washington.
`We call for a new election.''
Pravda: Putin congratulates Lukashenko