A group of Belorussian oppositionists have organized an unsanctioned action of protest against the plans to deploy a Russian air base in the territory of Belarus. According to belaruspartisan.org, there were almost 300 protesters in the Liberty Square, according to some other sources, their number ranged between 400 and 500.
Though the action was not sanctioned by the municipal authorities, the police did not interfere. Simply, the organizers will be brought to court.
The organizers are former presidential hopefuls Vladimir Nyaklyayew and Mikalai Statkevich. During the action, they said that the base would not make Belarus safer.
“Were it not for the example of Donbass, we could say, ‘Ok, we see no problem here. There are lots of foreign bases around the world.’ But in Crimea there was a Russian base, wherefrom the Russians occupied a part of Ukraine’s territory. The same may happen to us. Nobody is going to attack us from the side the Russian are going to protect us against. Neither Poland nor Lithuania or Latvia are likely to attack us,” Nyaklyayew said.
The protesters cried out slogans like “No to War!,” “No to Foreign Air Bases!” and “Long Live Belarus!” Many of them carried white-red-white flags (the Belorussian national flag in 1991-1995) as well as flags of the European Union and the United Civic Party of Belarus.
In mid-September 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin decreed to deploy an air base in Belarus. First such plans were mentioned in October 2014, when Chief Commander of Russia’s Air Forces Viktor Bondarev said that an air base with a squadron of Su-27s will be deployed in Babruysk in 2016 under the agreement to strengthen the security of the Russia-Belarus Union.