Protesting motorists blocked central Minsk (Video, photo)
20:56, — Politics
A protest against petrol price rise was held in Independence Avenue in Minsk.
The traffic from Yakub Kolas Square to the Main Post Office in the both directions was paralyzed for about 2 hours. Hundreds of cars have participated in the protest.
The traffic in Independence Avenue in Minsk was stopped and resumed for several times. Drivers of different cars have taken part in the protest: from old Volkswagen Golf and Zhiguli to Kreisler, BMV and latest models of Mercedes. Cars were driving at a low speed. Drivers were stopping in different lines of traffic, opened hoods, boots, took out empty canisters and were doing 15-minute “repair works” of their cars, which allegedly could not move or which had run out of petrol. Cars honks were heard, motorcycles joined them. They moved slowly in a column and honked.
People on the sidewalks were discussing the situation with animation. The response was absolutely positive. Many passers-by observed the event, filmed it with their mobile phones, and welcomed the protest with cheers. Several hundreds of people near the Central supermarket were chanting “Stop petrol!” as a sign of support.
Traffic policemen were trying to restore the traffic, but they could not.
Traffic policemen blocked the Avenue in the direction of Victory Square starting from Yakub Kolas Square. They directed cars and buses, including #100 bus, towards Kazlou Street and Masherau Avenue.
The main centre of resistance was situated between Lenin Street and Victory Square. Lots of traffic policemen and vehicle carriers were concentrated there. Drivers were improvising and using little tricks: they towed “broken down” cars, driving slowly, stopped.
Near McDonald’s several cars stopped as they were “hopelessly broken”. Drivers even sat on the ground beside these cars.
On the bridge over the Svislach River traffic policemen tried to stop a driver in a grey Ford Unversal. A police vehicle carrier moved towards it, but other cars blocked the way. Traffic policemen had to retreat.
At about 9 p.m. traffic in Independence Avenue gradually switched to a normal mode, and participants of “Stop petrol” rally dispersed. According to preliminary reports, administrative reports for violation of traffic rules have been drawn up against the most active protesters, mostly for stickers “We are against fuel prices rise”.
According to Interfax agency, riot policemen detained one of the protesters ,a car owner who protesting against the fuel price rise stopped the car and did not want to move together with the column of other participants of the rally.
“Stop Petrol” protest was organized by an organizing committee of “For Auto” movement following petrol price rise. Many activists who had organized the rally, had to go underground since morning for fear of preventive arrests. They switched off their mobile phones. The two previous protests started with detention of one of the campaign leaders Artsyom Sharkou.
Cars dispersed slowly, their emergency stop signals switched on, honking. Hundreds of passers-by cheered them. People were throwing fractional currency (Belarusian rubles) under the wheels of the cars. “This is not money, but wrappers, one cannot buy anything for them,” people said to journalists. Thus, the rally against fuel price rise turned into a general protest against the situation in the country’s economy.
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