When the protesters first gathered on October-Square starting around 7:30pm I was having dinner with a couple of Swedish activist in a nearby restaurant. The square was completely surrounded by police, but apart from what we saw later this was “normal” police – no sign of any “Spetsnatz” or military personal. Around 8:30pm the whole crowd started moving down the main-street towards Independence-Square, obviously because October-Square was becoming too small as well as the government was preventing the speeches to be heard by playing music through loudspeakers. We followed the track of more than 50.000 people in some distance and watched the speeches of the opposition candidates, standing on the base of the huge Lenin memorial on Independence-Square in front of the parliament. From the beginning the square was not only packed with protesters but also with KGB cronies who could be easily identified by their common outfits as well as their grimy facial expressions.
People later reported constant provocations even before the intervention of the security forces for example by hitting or stabbing peaceful protesters, setting coats on fire or ripping down banners. About 10:00, shortly before the stone-throwing incident at the parliament, we decided to move to Hotel Minsk on the other side of the square after we observed government officials hectically speaking into their headsets and police “guarding” a group of journalists of the square. Shortly after we arrived in the hotel-bar we could see military and special police units moving in from all sides surrounding the square. We went to the hotel entrance, where the Swedish Ambassador was just giving interviews, to make us a better picture. Suddenly a chain of special-forces was moving towards the hotel beating innocent people trying to get out of the square. While they got closer to the hotel, they started banging batons on their shields – we ran back into the hotel, for a short moment we were afraid they would storm the lobby. One guy with his head severely injured and bleeding all over made it inside last minute.
He later had to be helped with Vodka and towels as the hotel personal pretended not to have a first aid kit. After they had cleaned the square in an extensive manhunt for about 90 minutes we could finally leave the hotel around 1:00 o’clock. Outside there was nobody left but packs of KGB officials on every street corner while the detention busses where driving by. Something had died in Minsk that night; the lively city center had turned into a dark and scary scene with bloodstains on the snow-covered sidewalks.by Daniel George