The Belsat cameraman was detained while performing his journalist duties. Alexander Barazienka was filming a one-man action of solidarity with Belarusian political prisoners in front of the KGB headquarters in Minsk. When Mikita Kavalenka, an activist of the European Belarus civil campaign, unfurled a placard with pictures of the political prisoners and an unrecognized white-red-white Belarusian flag, KGB agents seized both. On Monday, January 9, the Minsk Central District Court sentenced Barazienka to 11 days of administrative arrest while Mikita Kavalenka was given 15. They were adjudged guilty of violating the order of holding mass rallies. Soon after the sentence Alexander went on hunger strike in protest. The detained journalist wishes to appeal a conviction.
Officials of the Minsk temporary holding facility (IVS) alleged that there were no vacant rooms for meetings and the defence councellor managed to visit Barazienka only on the second try. The defendant informed the councellor of his intention to continue hunger-striking.
“We call on Belarusian authorities to immediately release Alexander Barazienka, who was simply doing his job, reporting on a news event,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “The blitz trial in which Barazienka was pronounced guilty and sentenced to prison in just one day is a travesty of justice that cements the country’s reputation as the last dictatorship of Europe”.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media condemned the sentencing of Alexander (Ales) Barazienka to 11 days’ imprisonment for “participating in an unsanctioned event”.
“Belarus continues to prevent journalists from covering public protests. The Government should allow journalists to cover any political event, whether officially sanctioned or not, for the sake of society’s right to know,” said Mijatović. “I call on the authorities to release Barazienka and stop harassing him and other journalists.”
Alexander Barazienka was repeatedly detained while performing his professional duties. On December, 19, 2011 he was seized during the performance of the activists of FEMEN, a Ukranian protest group, in front of the KGB headquarters in Minsk. But at that time he was released having spent some hours in an Internal Affairs Directorate.