European Federation of Journalists

Belarus detains and fines journalist for filming police attacking protesters

Paul Dabravolski, a reporter working for the Belarusian news website TUT.BY was arrested and given a fine of 9.450.000 Belarusian rubles (420 EUR) for filming police beating two protesters during a court hearing on a graffiti case on 25 January. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) have today condemned the arrest and urged the authority to withdraw all charges against Dabravolski.

Dabravolski is a member of the BAJ. He was arrested while he was covering a hearing where two supporters were protesting in the court with a banner saying “stop political prosecution”. In a video recording the hearing, the police pushed the protesters outside the courtroom while they were shutting “art is not a crime”. Journalists present in the court room followed the police and filmed the process.

Dabravolski was among the journalists filming the police beating the protesters. He was beaten and arrested together with the two protesters. He was then taken to the police station and charged with “contempt of court” (Article 24.1 of Belarus Code on Administrative Offenses) and “disobeying the officials’ legal demands” (Article 23.4 of Belarus Code on administrative Offenses).

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the EFJ President said, “It is clear that Dabravolski has committed no crime. He was merely there doing his job to report on abuses by the authority.”

“The police must drop all the charges against Dabravolski,” demanded Blicher Bjerregård.

Photo Credit : Vadim Samirovsky, TUT.BY