Cop-kicking great-granny is national protest hero in Belarus
A fearless great-granny enjoys cult-hero status in Belarus after viral video showed her kicking the riot cops who snatched away her flag during a protest.
Now, shouts of “Nina! Nina!” follow the white-haired pensioner as she marches in the month-long street demonstrations against Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.
“She is the hero of our time,” one young woman protester told BBC News of petite protest spitfire Nina Bahinskaya, 73.
“We’ve been watching you and we want to be like you!” another young woman protester agreed.
“He won’t go by himself,” Bahinskaya told the BBC of Lukashenko, a dictator who has refused to step down after claiming a landslide victory in an Aug. 9 presidential election widely seen as fraudulent.
“He is a sick man,” the bespectacled granny told the BBC. “He is a psychopath, controlled by people from Moscow.”
Bahinskaya tangled with cops in late August, during a street protest in the capital city of Minsk.
She had been marching while waving a giant banner on a pole –the old red and white Belarussian flag.
The flag is now banned in Belarus, but it has become popular among protesters as an anti-Lukashenko symbol.
When riot police pulled the flag from her hands, she chased them down.
She yelled, punched and kicking at the armed police, even pulling at the body armor of one cop, according to video posted to Twitter by Franak Viacorce on Aug. 26.
“The fact that I kicked this riot policeman was not very good behavior, but on a human level, correct,” she told BBC.
“Because if you are attacked and your things are stolen, you won’t just say ‘thank you.’”
Now, she is in constant demand for selfies among protesters — though not everyone is a fan.
“You found some half-mad babushka and you’re following her!” the BBC quoted one woman, who recently heckled Bahinskaya and her acolytes from the protest sidelines.
Bahinskaya, meanwhile, rejects her celebrity status.
“I don’t consider myself a special hero,” she told BBC.
“That’s the duty of any normal person,” she said of her courage.
“People must be free.”