Police raid Belsat TV office in Minsk

Зараз каля офісу Белсата. Вобшук скончыўся, заходзім у офіс. СТРЫМ

Opublikowany przez Белсат TV Wtorek, 9 kwietnia 2019

An Emergency Situations Ministry team used an angle grinder to break down the door to the Belsat TV office in Minsk at about 8:55 (local time) on Tuesday.

Now officers of the Belarusian Investigative Committee are conducting a search. Mikola Dzyabyola, our Minsk-based coordinator, who came to the office in the morning, is unavailable. The police are barring people from entering; only dwellers are let in.

Policeman barring journalists from entering

In addition, plainclothes policemen are keeping the watch sitting in a car parked in the yard.

Apart from our journalists, Barys Haretski, Spokesman for the Belarusian Association of Journalists, and RFE/RL correspondent Alyaksandra Dynko have arrived at the scene. It is still unknown what has afforded ground for the raid.

(UPD) According to preliminary information, the search is part of a criminal case under Art. 188 of the Criminal Code (libel).

Ператрус у офісе Белсату

Вось, як выглядае офіс Белсату пасля ператрусу СК.

Opublikowany przez Белсат TV Wtorek, 9 kwietnia 2019

The case might be related to the news story about the corruption schemes in the state procurement of medical equipment, Iryna Slaunikava, the channel’s official representative in Minsk, presumes. Due to a technical error, a draft version of the story was published on the website, Belsat refuted the information and offered apologies.

“Do you have an office in Minsk? In my opinion, it is just a flat. The search is being carried out in connection with a criminal case under Art. 188-2 (libel) that was initiated by the prosecutor’s office. According to our information, in the office there might be computer equipment which was used to spread the slanderous information. Your colleagues were summoned for questioning, so it should not be news for them,” Syarhei Kabakovich, Spokesman for the Investigative Committee, said when reached by Belsat TV.

Investigative Committee employees taking Belsat TV computer equipment out of office. Phot. belsat.eu
Search is over; computer equipment seized

Around 13:00 investigators have taken the seized Belsat TV equipment (three laptops and two system units) out of the office and put them into a black minibus. They have forbidden the channel’s coordinator to make the criminal article public.

Офіс БЕЛСАТ пасля ператрусу https://baj.by/be/content/u-ofise-belsata-u-minsku-peratrus-yon-zvyazany-z-kryminalnay-spravay-ab-paklyope

Opublikowany przez Barysa Haretskiego Wtorek, 9 kwietnia 2019

Belsat TV office in Minsk after today’s raid, photos by Barys Haretski (BAJ)

“They did not explain what was the fault of Belsat TV. They said that ‘one should tell the truth’, I don’t know what they meant. I think all the actions of then are aimed at hindering Belsat in its work in Minsk and Belarus. It is not the first time they have raided our office. But earlier, administrative cases were initiated; now we are facing criminal proceedings. The authorities seem to be mopping up our information space,” Mikola Dzyabyola commented on the situation after the search.

Belsat TV journalist Ales Zaleuski after the search in the office
After the raid

Belsat TV office in Minsk is located in one of the flats of the block

Plainclothes policemen in the car