Some 3,000 Minsk residents attended on February 10 a rally and demonstration called by retail tradesmen protesting President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s order to return the central Minsk food marked to state ownership and to ban private retailers from the market. The Popular Front, the United Civic party, and the Party of Communists of Belarus (PCB) supported the action, and leading economic reformers from the forcibly dissolved parliament attended. The tradesmen’s recently formed trade union, Sadruzhnasts, has decided to join the opposition alliance. The traders and the political opposition predict that the reimposition of the state monopoly will increase food prices. State television depicted the demonstration as the work of the "petty bourgeoisie" which "breeds Nazism."
On the same day the PCB, an uneasy ally of the democratic opposition to Lukashenko, was evicted from the attic in which it had located its improvised headquarters and the editorial office of the party newspaper. The authorities favor the more orthodox and pro-presidential, albeit far smaller, Belorussian Communist party (BCP). On the following night, unidentified perpetrators beat up Anatol Lyabedka, one of the dissolved parliament’s leaders, and they shot at the apartment of Ihar Hermenchuk, the opposition newspaper Svoboda’s chief editor. (Belapan, Interfax, NTV, UPI, February 10-12)
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