On April 11, Didier Canesse, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of France to the Republic of Belarus, met with Belsat TV contributors to get first-hand information about Tuesday’s police raid on the channel’s editorial office in Minsk.
The top diplomat who voiced his support for our team asked Belsatters about the details of the search and the criminal case initiated by the Belarusian authorities.
France’s Embassy keeps monitoring the situation with freedom of speech in Belarus, Ambassador stressed.
On April 9, employees of the Investigative Committee of Belarus several conducted a rigorous search of the Belsat TV office in Minsk. As a result of the raid, all the computers and data storage devices were seized on grounds of carrying out a probe into a criminal case under Art. 188-2 (‘libel’) launched by the Prosecutor’s Office.
The case is related to the Belsat TV news story about the corruption schemes in the state procurement of medical equipment. Due to a technical error, a draft version of the story was published on the website. It should be noted that the channel refuted the information and offered apologies to General Andrey Shved who felt hurt over the mistake. The Investigative Committee ran a check and found no grounds for criminal prosecution is not found. However, in January 2018, the Prosecutor’s Office of Minsk launched a criminal case over the same situation.
A number of human rights and journalistic organizations, including the OSCE, have condemned the attack on Belsat TV. According to them, another wave of persecuting independent media might have started in the run-up to the electoral campaign in Belarus.