Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 86

In separate but parallel actions yesterday, some 20,000 trade unionists marched through central Minsk airing mostly economic demands, while an estimated 7,000 supporters of national independence rallied to denounce president Aleksandr Lukashenko’s pro-Moscow policies. The police attacked the pro-independence demonstrators, dozens of whom were injured. Recent demonstrations for national independence had each gathered tens of thousands of participants, but the Popular Front urged its supporters to stay away from yesterday’s demonstration in order to avoid a repressive crackdown. (Western agencies, May 1)

Several Front leaders and scores of its supporters are currently under arrest following the April 26 pro-independence demonstration. Yesterday’s massive trade union demonstration represents another setback for Lukashenko, who had until now been able to count on the Soviet-era holdover leadership of the official trade unions to keep their membership in check. The president was also challenged earlier in the week by the Constitutional Court, which called on the parliament to enact legislation penalizing presidential violations of the constitution.

Moscow Holding On to Mutalibov.