Over the last two weeks, the Belarus police have detained twice as many journalists as over the past year. It is the reporters livestreaming non-parasite rallies who are the main target of the security services. Belsat TV journalists and contributors have repeatedly come under fire as well.
Since the beginning of 2017, 34 journalists have been detained. On March 18, the police staged a real hunt for Belsat reporters all over the country.
It is nothing but psychological pressure, Belsat TV journalist Volha Czajczyc stresses when telling about her being detained by Barysau policemen.
“I was simply outraged by the fact that policemen wanted me to undress so that they could film the search. I believe it to be kind of torture and humiliation,” she said at Monday’s press conference at the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ).
Why have Belsat journalists been subjected to the police’s monitoring?
“Belsat broadcasts the current developments, people can see the actions of the police, the life of people in regions. No one can accuse Belsat TV contributors of stretching the reality. That is the worst thing for the authorities,” Svyatlana Kalinkina, Head of Belsat TV office in Minsk, says.
Homiel authorities have gone over the line: the local police visited the parents of Belsat TV contributor Larysa Shchyrakova and said that they might her 10-year-old child away and put him in a state-owned boarding school.
“According to them, I may face problems as I am involved in ‘illegal activities’. They say my family may be put on the list of ‘troubled’ families, which will be the reason for starting the withdrawal of my child. They warned ny mother that my son might end up in a boarding school,” Larysa said.
According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, over the course of the full year 2016, the amount of detained journalists was fewer that that of the last month, i.e. since the beginning of the protests against the presidential decree Nr 3. State-run media simply ignore the reaction of people to the so-called tax on parasites. It is the independent media outlets who provide Belarusians with the opportunity to express their outrage about the government policy. Pressurizing journalists is an attempt to hush up the latest events, experts say.
BAJ representatives are set to meet with Deputy Interior Minister Mikalai Melchanka and remind the official that it is unlawful to hinder journalists’ work.
They will also appeal for holding police officers, who prevent reporters from performing their professional duties, criminally liable.