European Federation of Journalists

Belarus: police interfere with journalists work during protests

UPDATE (14.03.2017): The Belarusian Association of Journalists protests detentions of 18 journalists and obstruction of their professional activities by law enforcement forces. The BAJ believes that the court ruling on March 13, where journalists Halina Abakunchyk and K. Bakhvalava were found administratively liable, is unlawful and illegitimate.

On March 12, protests were planned in three Belarusian cities – Babruysk, Orsha and Rahachou due to the unemployment tax, which will force people to pay approximately $200 if they are unemployed for more than six months per year. Law enforcement agencies unfolded a large-scale operation to prevent journalists from covering the events.

The Belarus Association of Journalists (BAJ), an affiliate of the European Federation of Journalists, wrote a detailed article on the incidents that happened with journalists during the protests:

  • In Orsha, the police stopped the car of Belsat journalists. An administrative report was drawn up against cameraman Aliaksandr Barasenka. The team drove to a police department with the aim to take a comment from  detained activist Pavel Seviarynets. As a result, the police detained Aliaksandr Barasenka and journalist Katsiaryna Bakhvalava during live stream. Aliaksandr Barasenka was asked a high fine officially for his   car  standing in the traffic area.
  • After the protest action, journalist of the Radio Svaboda Halina Abakunchyk was detained, as well as BelaPAN photographer Andrei Shauliuha and blogger Anastasia Piliuhina. Halina Abakunchyk and Katsiaryna Bakhvalava had administrative reports compiled against them for disobedience to police’s demand. The trial will start today, they had to spend the night in the detention facility.
  • In the Homel region, journalists were detained on their way to Rahachou: journalists of Belsat Yauhen Merkis, Siarhei Kavaliou, Volha Chaychyts and Andrei Kozel. The traffic police stopped two cars and started a long inspection of technical documents.
  • In Vitebsk journalists Siarhei Rusetski and Uladzimir Luniou were detained by traffic police; they were taken to a police department to check if the car had not been jacked. Later, the police brought their excuses and let them go.

The full article can be found on the BAJ website.

Photo Credit: Maxim MALINOVSKY / AFP