Belarusian woman fined $900 for wearing footwear matching colours of banned opposition flag

A woman in Belarus was fined $900 for wearing red and white socks because they matched the colours of the Belarusian opposition nationalist movement’s flag.

The woman was spotted in Minsk wearing the coloured socks and shoes as she was on her way to a driving lesson, and was grabbed by four men in balaclavas.

Natalia Sivtsova-Sedushkina was told she was being detained for dressing improperly, because she was sporting the colours of the banned flag.

The woman was also accused of flashing the ‘V for Victory’ signs to passing drivers, many of whom saluted back.

From 1991 to 1995 and during other brief periods in the 20th Century, the red and white striped flag was Belarus’ national flag under the Belarusian Democratic Republic, and the flag for Belarusian nationalists.

But the Soviet Communists replaced it with a red and green flag featuring a hammer and sickle symbol.

After the fall of communism, the flag was reintroduced by President Alexander Lukashenko in 1995, but without the hammer and sickle.

The red and white flag has since become a symbol of rebellion against Lukashenko’s rule, which is seen by many as being illegitimate.

Ms Sedushkina was ordered by a judge to pay 2,320 Belarus roubles for wearing the red and white socks and shoes. She was prosecuted under draconian laws that ban unauthorised protest in Belarus.

Last year in August, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Minsk to demonstrate against President Lukashenko for claiming re-election, a result that was widely condemned as being rigged.

Police responded brutally, deploying tear gas and baton charges against the protesters, and arrested thousands of people. Many cases of police brutality were reported.

Other than support from Russia, Mr Lukashenko remains largely isolated from Europe and other countries.