Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 53

At least 10,000 residents of Minsk demonstrated on Constitution Day [March 15] in favor of the fundamental law adopted on March 15, 1994, and in support of the parliament which adopted that constitution. The demonstrators denounced President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s new, authoritarian constitution and hand-picked parliament as illegitimate. Agrarian, liberal reformist, nationalist, and Communist participants in the demonstration represented a cross-section of the country’s political forces in opposition to Lukashenko. Heading the procession were leaders of the disbanded parliament–Syamyon Sharetsky, Myachislau Hryb, Henadz Karpenka, Vasyl Novikav — and deputies of the rump legitimate parliament, which remains active. OMON police stopped the procession before it could reach Lukashenko’s residence.

On March 14, at least 3,000 a attended a rally in Minsk on the theme "Belarus into Europe." OMON police barred the demonstrators’ access to Western embassies where the leaders intended to hand over petitions for political support. The police arrested scores of participants in the March 14 rally and interrogated leading opposition figures following the March 15 demonstration. The authorities also hold dozens of real or alleged participants in the March 10 mass protests against the Minsk session of the Russia-Belarus Community’s Parliamentary Assembly. (See Monitor, March 12) Some of those arrested have been heavily fined or sentenced on the spot to several days imprisonment, and others face similar treatment. (AP, Reuter, Belapan, Interfax, NTV, March 14-16)

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