In Minsk, the capital and largest city in Belarus, hooded fascists gathered tonight outside a hotel where the first of this weekend’s “unauthorized” Slavic Pride events are taking place. Police are monitoring the situation and have it under control at the moment, but this may not bode well for todays parade. Since last night the proceedings have been marred by a bomb scare, threats.
FRIDAY MAY 14
* 20:20: Protestors are wearing masks outside the hotel so as not to be identified. The police arrived to try to take them out. The hotel management have asked the organizers to identify their guests to avoid letting protestors in the premises.
* 20:25: Police have called the anti-riot police to remove the protesters. As in Russia, they are also called OMON. Hotel security reports that they already found some protesters inside the hotel – they have been removed from the premises.
* 20:40: Police and riot police have cleared the entrance to the hotel and have cordoned it off. Participants are entering, but protsters are standing by in front of the hotel. The room is already full for the film. Alekseev said that the show will start at 9pm instead of 8pm and asked for the understanding for the delay.
* 21:40: Bomb alert at Crown Plaza. Film interrupted. Police asked to stop the film and relocate to another room within the hotel. “So, we are having a break and relocating.”
* 22:55: The audience was very moved by the movie, watching the difficulties to stage Prides in Moscow or Warsaw and the contrast with Sao Paulo, New York or Vancouver … and there is a lot of emotion on faces of the guests here in Belarus. Standing ovation for Bob Christie, the film director. Alekseev: “We held this event here in Minsk tonight and the protestors did not stop us despite trying. Alekseev: “Congratulations to all. AlekseevThis is already the first step.” Guests are now hedaing for a cocktail reception.
SATURDAY MAY 15
09:00: Interesting reports say that last evening the head of the police of the central area of Minsk was seen at the gay club where a Pride Party is scheduled tonight. The club fears an attack from protestors … but so far, the management told the organisers he has no plan to close and will open tonight, though increased security has been ordered.
10:00: Briefings for the Pride participants who are split in several groups. Final overal plan has been put in place and is known to only four people. Tight security for the plan is really to prevent the anti-gay protestors from causing problems. The police appear to realise that the Pride protestors are not hooligans and the the parade will not be “political”.
11:00: Slavic Pride in Minsk is going to be a repeat of Moscow Pride 2008 when organisers managed to stage a short and symbolic “parade” of a few hundred metres. Guest at last night’s film screening here saw footage of Moscow 2008.
12:15: Those brave enough to take part in the unauthorised march are now making their final preparations “at a secret location”. The defiant march is scheduled to get underway in just under an hour.
12:25: Set to take part in the march are 17 Belarusian gay activists – three cancelled at the last minute. They will be joined by around the same number of Russian activists, including Nikolai Bayev, who arrived from Moscow on the overnight train this morning, and four organisers of St. Petersburg Gay Pride.
12:50: Russian and Belarusian Pride marchers have been provided with a form to handover to the police in case of arrest. The form needs to be signed in case of arrest and basically says that the person recognises his guilt for taking part in an unsanctionned event and agrees to pay a fine of 17,500 Belarusian Rubles (just under US$6). According to the law, a person who pays this fine has to be released by the police and should not be kept in custody until court case.
13:01: Unauthorised Slavic Gay Pride in Minsk about to start in a few minutes – will the participants be able to defy the police and succeed?
13:09: SMS message from the start of the march: “Risks to big. Androsenko canclled the 1.10pm plan and postponed to later. 8 cameras and many reporters here”.
13:24: Several police buses and even military troops have gathered next to the place where Pride organisers were suppose to meet media, to take them to the start of the march. “It is not possible to do anything around but we did not give up yet,” organisers said defiantly. There are about 60 journalists are waiting to cover the Slavic Pride.
14:04: Organisers are continuing to consider their options for a revised schedule for the “unauthorised march”.
14:32: Pride organisers have planned to fly today a 2 meters long rainbow flag that has previously been used in Minsk. Will the flag fly anywhere today ?
14:37: It can now be revealed that the initial plan of the Pride organisers was to march for approximately 800 meters from the Academy of Sciences. The start was scheduled at 1.10pm. The plan was cancelled just 5 minutes before as the police and the army were already on the spot. Organisers are discussing an alternate location.
This is what TRUE Gay Pride, Activism and Bravery looks like. Standing up in the face of adversity under threat and standing your ground Equality. I think we should all perhaps remember that.
I send all my love and support to our brave LGBT sisters and brothers in Minsk who are risking thier lives to further their cause