Belarus villagers complain of army tanks on lawn

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

Image source, Tut.By
Image caption,
The tanks have been passing only metres away from residential apartments

Villagers in northern Belarus are complaining that the local tank brigade is using their streets as a short cut, it's reported.

Zaslonava in Vitsebsk Region is home to the 19th Guards Mechanised Brigade of the Belarusian Army, and local people have sent photos and video to the Tut.By news portal showing how tanks drive over pavements and churn up the grassy areas between blocks of flats.

"Military hardware rumbles past our houses constantly, even at night. It could be one tank, it could be a whole column," pensioner Vasil Zhernosek told the site. "The route through the village is a short cut for them to get from one tank park to another, but what about us?"

Above all, he says local people are worried about their children, as the tanks pass within 150m (about 500ft) of a school. A video from the village shows a tank driving over a set of car tyres near the school before heading off across an already-damaged expanse of grass.

As for remonstrating with the tank crews, Mr Zhernosek tells Tut.By that he once stood in front of a column to block its way, only to be told "If you don't clear off, I'll run you over!"

The local council says no one from the village has complained to them about it, but acknowledges there's nothing they can do anyway. "We have no influence over the military. There's a half kilometre (0.3 miles) stretch of road in the village that both civilians and the army are allowed to use," a spokesperson told the news portal.

This isn't the first time the Guards Brigade has been in the news this year. In February, a shell exploded near Zaslonava during an exercise, and two months later an armoured troop carrier badly damaged the car of people visiting their son, who's serving in the brigade. The worst incident occurred last week, when a soldier was accidentally crushed to death between two troop carriers at the base.

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