Thousands of Belarusians take part in annual opposition march
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Minsk on Friday in an annual opposition gathering.
The march, called Freedom Day, marks the anniversary of the short-lived Belarusian People's Republic in 1919, seen as a precursor to the current independent Belarusian state.
Ales Logvinets, event organiser: "This is the most important holiday for the people of Belarus when Belarusians voiced their right to be independent and free people. I am here because I want to celebrate it with my friends, with my son. This holiday is worth becoming a state holiday so that all people celebrate it. Holidays like this one help building national unity and consensus and belief in better life."
Participants carried the traditional red-and-white flags of the nations and the flag of the European Union. There were a number of Ukrainian flags seen and some protesters holding banners in support of captured Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko who was sentenced to 22 years in jail by Russian court last week.
Watch also Ukraine Today's interview with Andrei Yahorau, the director of the Belarus-based think-tank ‘Centre for European Transformation': "Has Europe turned blind eye to Lukashenko's human rights abuses in Belarus?"
The last time Belarus saw large protests was following the 2010 presidential election in which Lukashenko, the self-proclaimed 'last dictator in Europe', won by a landslide. However, the election was widely criticised by the West.