KGB reports ‘large-scale clean-up operation’. Results of Thursday’s attack on press and activists

On July 8, Belarusian security agencies carried out a large-scale attack on independent Belarusian media outlets.

TNasha niva Telegram channel, illustrative photo

On the same day, the State Security Committee (KGB) reported the conduct of ‘an operation to clean up radicals’. This statement was voiced by Kanstantsin Bychak, the deputy head of the KGB investigation department, on the air of the state-run TV channel Belarus 1. It is unknown whether that was the operation announced by Alyaksandr Lukashenka on July 2 and whether it is connected with the attack on the free press.

On Thursday, the offices of the following organisations were raided:

  • Nasha Niva (Minsk);
  • Brestskaya Gazeta (Brest);
  • Intex-Press (Baranavichy);
  • Orsha.eu (Orsha);
  • Media-Palesse (Pinsk-Luninets-Stolin)

Minsk: Police raiding office of popular Belarusian media outlet Nasha Niva, website down

Police officers also searched the homes of:

  • Nasha Niva editor-in-chief Yahor Martsinovich, its editorial director Andrey Dynko, editor Andrey Skurko, and accounting staff;
  • Alesya Latinskaya, a journalist at Bobr.by (Babruysk);
  • Vitsebsk-based freelance journalist Zmitser Kazakevich;
  • Orsha.eu photographer Dzyanis Dubkou;
  • Brest activist Alyaksandra Haurusik;
  • Vitsebsk activist Mikalai Kachurets;
  • Homiel volunteer Ilya Mironau;
  • activists from Hlybokaye Alyaksandr Sharabayka and Volha Lapatka;
  • teacher Artsyom Stadolnik, former investigator Yury Matseyun (Dokshytsy);
  • a number of Svetlahorsk activists.

Aleh Suprunyuk, editor of the Brest-based First Region portal, got a fine of 500 rubles for „distributing extremist materials“. Vitsebsk journalist Vyachaslau Lazaraus place was not searched, but his mother’s phone was confiscated.

Massive crackdown on independent media in Belarus

Detained on Thursday:

  • Yahor Martsinovich, Andrey Dynko, Andrey Skurko, Nasha Niva chief accountant Volha Rakovich are suspects under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code (‘organisation or preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or participation in them’). They were detained for 72 hours and taken to the detention centre on Akrestsin Street in Minsk;
  • Ihar Kazmerchak, an editor at Orsha.eu, may be charged with ‘damage to buildings by making political inscriptions’;
  • freelance journalist Vital Skryl from Vitsebsk was interrogated and detained in the case regarding ‘insulting a representative of authority’;
  • Hlybokaje journalist Zmitser Lupach was taken away from the health centre he was spending his holiday in. The reason for the detention in unknown;
  • Vasil Palyakou, a Homiel politician and public figure (the reason is unknown);
  • Dokshytsy activists Artsyom Stadolnik, Yury Matseyun, Veranika Sudnikovich (mother of three kids); they are reportedly accused under Article 341 of the Criminal Code.

Nasha Niva contributors Natallya Lubneuskaya and Shura Pilipovich-Sushchyts were released on a non-disclosure agreement.

According to the Telegram-channel A Country for Living, three more people were detained in the Minsk residential complex Cascade on Thursday evening as part of the above-mentioned KGB operation.

Blocked sites:

  • Nn.by by Nasha Niva (remains unreachable even via VPN);
  • Zerkalo.io, a new site made by TUT.BY employees of the blocked;
  • Euroradio.pl, Euroradio mirror site

Detentions and searches: Belarus authorities have independent journos in crosshairs across country

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