The Russian media outlet Komsomolskaya Pravda is about to liquidate its representative office in Belarus.
The local staff have been offered jobs at other branches of the company; some of them will get monetary compensation.
The Komsomolskaya Pravda editorial board has made an official announcement that it is going to cease its work in Belarus.
“After analysing the events of the last year and especially those of the last week, Komsomolskaya Pravda has decided to close its representative office in Minsk, CJSC BelKP-PRESS,” the statement reads.
Last week, Henadz Mazheika, a journalist of the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus, wrote the article regarding the shootout in Minsk as well as the deaths of security officer Dzmitry Fedasyuk and IT specialist Andrey Zeltsar. An interviewee, Andrey Zeltsar‘s acquaintance, spoke positively about him. After that, the website of Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus was blocked by the Lukashenka regime.
Moreover, the author of the article was detained on October 1 in Moscow and taken to Minsk. His apartment was searched as part of the criminal case initiated under Article 130-3 (‘incitement of social hatred’) and Article 369 (‘insulting a representative of authorities’) of the Criminal Code of Belarus. After spending 72 hours in the detention centre on Akrestsin Street, Mazheika was transferred to the remand prison in the town of Zhodzina.
As reported earlier, the Kremlin tried to stand up for the Belarusian branch of the Russian media company. Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov criticized Minsk for blocking the website and arresting the journalist, but the authorities stress that the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus is not Russian, but a Belarusian media outlet.
The Belarusian special services have been using the tragedy on Yakubouski Street in Minsk as a pretext for stepping up reprisals: during last week’s large-scale operation, they held over 100 persons throughout the country. On September 29-30, detentions took place in Minsk, Homiel, Vitsebsk, Mahiliou, other cities and towns of Belarus. They were detained under criminal articles 369 (‘Insulting a representative of the authorities’) and 130 (‘Inciting social hatred’). Human rights activists believe that the new wave of repression is connected to the people’s discussing the story of Zeltsar and Fedasyuk and ‘leaving offensive comments on social media platforms’. It would be good if the authorities could kill up to 100 persons (i.e. protesters or dissidents) in retaliation for one dead KGB officer, pro-Lukashenka top brass officer Aleh Belakoneu said when attending the farewell ceremony for Fedasyuk.