Frosty The Protester: Belarusian Man Arrested For Snowman

By RFE/RL's Belarus Service

HOMEL, Belarus -- A man in Belarus, where longtime leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka is under popular pressure to step down, is facing charges over a snowman in his backyard.

The man in the Homel district had scrawled across his creation: "Long live Belarus," a popular slogan of the country's protest movement.

Photos of the white figure also show him decked out with a red scarf, the two colors of the opposition -- adopted from the flag of Belarus's short-lived bid for democratic independence more than a century ago.

A local rights activist told RFE/RL that police on December 29 cited the man for holding an unsanctioned picket.

According to Leanid Sudalenka, the man told the officer he should have charged the snowman, who had melted away by that time.

"The man suggested the officer charge the snowman, since he was picketing. And although there was no snow, nor snowman, the man will face trial," Sudalenka said.

Lukashenka, in power since 1994, has faced months of protests demanding he step down following a disputed presidential election in August 2020.

Nearly 30,000 people have been detained, and hundreds beaten in detention and on the streets, in the postelection crackdown by the government.

The EU and United States refuse to recognize Lukashenka as Belarus's legitimate leader and slapped him and senior officials with sanctions.

The vote, which handed the 66-year-old Lukashenka a sixth term, was widely dismissed as having been rigged, with the real winner being opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who was forced to flee to Lithuania shortly after the election.