Partyzanski district court of Minsk has considered a complaint against the measure of restraint applied to Henadz Mazheika, an author of the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus. The court’s decision is to let the detainer stand, Russian news agency TASS reports.
The hearing was held behind closed doors. The journalist’s defence is going to appeal the court’s ruling.
The media worker was detained on October 1 in Moscow and taken to Minsk. Currently, Henadz Mazheika is being kept in the remand prison in Zhodzina.
Most likely, the journalist was charged with ‘incitement of social hatred’ (Article 130 of the Criminal Code) and ‘insulting a representative of authorities’ (Article 369). If one is found guilty under these articles, they may get a prison term from 5 to 12 years.
In late September, Henadz Mazheika wrote the article regarding the shootout in Minsk as well as the deaths of security officer Dzmitry Fedasyuk and IT specialist Andrey Zeltsar. In the story published by Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus, Zeltsar‘s acquaintance Vera Salaviova spoke positively about him. After that, its website was blocked by the Lukashenka regime. A week ago, Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda announced its plans to liquidate its representative office in Belarus.
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’.
In accordance with the authorities’ version, Belarusian security officers were conducting a ‘special inspection of the apartments in which people involved in terrorist activities could have been’ on September 28 ; in the course of the KGB raid, two persons were killed on Yakubouski Street in Minsk – KGB officer Dzmitry Fedasyuk and EPAM employee Andrey Zeltsar. The latter resided in the flat to which plainclothed people broke into on that day. If the Investigative Committee’s statement is anything to go by, Zeltsar fired a shotgun at the visitors and injuted one of them; later, the injured died of wounds in hospital. The owner of the apartment was killed as well; his 40-year-old wife Maryia Uspenskaya was arrested on suspicion of complicity in the murder of a KGB officer.
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.