320 cases of detaining journos since election day – BAJ

Since August 9, there have been at least 320 cases of detaining media workers in Belarus, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reports.

According to BAJ, nine journalists are currently in custody. Among them there are three contributors of Vot Tak TV and Belsat: Viktar Yarashuk (sentenced to 10 days in jail), Pavel Dabravolski (15 days) and cameraman Zmitser Soltan (13 days). When detaining Soltan, policemen presumably broke his arm; the cameraman was also hit in the head with his own camera. Pinsk-based journalist Viktar Yarashuk has high blood pressure; an ambulance was called twice to the detention facility, his colleague Andrey Yakimush said.

Belarusian journalists are often tried under articles of the Code of Administrative Offenses, but recently, some have faced criminal charges. On November 2, the Belarusian Investigative Committee announced that the persons arrested during Sunday’s March Against Terror were accused of organising mass riots. Journalists are also suspects in the case; notably, in accordance with Belarusian law, media workers are not participants in rallies they cover.

The protest rallies in Belarus have been underway for over two months. The major demands are Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s resignation, holding a free and fair election, releasing political prisoners, putting an end to police violence as well as state-run TV stations’ providing people with unbiased and reliable information. According to human rights activists’ estimates, more than 15,000 people have been detained in Belarus since the election day; many of them were beaten or tortured, some were raped. There are at least six death cases that are linked to the post-election protests. Hundreds are parties to criminal proceedings, the number of political prisoners exceeded 100.

Independent journalists under more pressure from authorities