On July 11, detained Belsat TV journalist Zmitser Lupach and activist Alyaksandr Sharabayka were released from prison. The three-day term, during which the detainees were to be informed whether a criminal case was instituted against them, expired.
On July 8, Belarusian security agencies carried out a large-scale attack on independent Belarusian media outlets. Since early morning, Belsat TV had been getting alarming reports from various cities and towns of Belarus. For-example, Hlybokaje journalist Zmitser Lupach was taken away from the health centre he was spending his holiday in. A number of journalists were grabbed; the police conducted searches as well.
On the same day, the State Security Committee (KGB) reported the conduct of ‘an operation to clean up radicals’. The 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 was connected with the attack on the free press.
On Sunday, the authorities also released Dokshitsy teacher Artsyom Stadolnik, lawyer and former investigator Yury Matseyun, accountant Veranika Sudnikovich, Ihar Kazmerchak, the editor of news website orsha.eu. The four persons were detained last Thursday as well.
However, the contributors to the popular Belarusian media outlet Nasha Niva who were arrested as part of last Thursday’s operation remain behind bars. Searches took place in their Minsk office as well as in the apartments of employees – both journalists and accountants. Their news website, nn.by, was blocked on the back of the recent decision by the Belarusian Ministry of Information.
Nasha Niva editor-in-chief Yahor Martsinovich, editorial director Andrey Dynko, editor Andrey Skurko, NN chief accountant Volha Rakovich are suspects under Part 1 of Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (‘organisation or preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or participation in them’). On July 8, they were detained for 72 hours.
Andrey Skurko, a diabetic patient, is insulin-dependent, he was allowed to take medicines for three days. According to his wife, the search of their house was conducted by masked men armed with machine guns. Yahor Martsinovich was beaten in the course of the detention, which resulted in his suffering a head injury.