Minsk: Belsat TV contributors detained


Volha czajczyc and Syarhei Krauchuk

Volha Czajczyc and Syarhei Krauchuk have been grabbed in the street and taken to Baraulyany police station by force.

The policemen failed to give any reasons for detaining the crew. Volha Czajczyc believes that they will be released after the officers draw a protocol for work without accreditation upon them.

On January 21, our contributors performed their professional duties attending a press conference of activists who set the cross in honour of Lithuanian victims of Stalinist repression in Kurapaty. Earlier, Baraulyany forestry workers dismantled the cross and the police made a number protocols over the case.

Kurapaty, a place on the outskirts of Minsk, is not just the national memorial and a mass grave of the victims of Stalinist repression; since 1993, it has been is a site of historical and cultural heritage. Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka has never paid tribute to the killed in Kurapaty. Since late May, the group of Belarusian activists is protesting against ‘dancing on the bones’, i.e.the activity of Let’s Go And Eat restaurant in the vicinity of the mass grave under the passive eye of the local authorities.

To prevent the police from removing her video, Volha was livestreaming on Facebook.

“From the very beginning, the police had been keeping an eye on us in Kurapaty; activists escorted us to the car. But a traffic police car was following us; then the detention happened and another squad took us to the police station. The police often detain journalists in Kurapaty. Obviously, the authorities want us not to cover the events near the notorious Let’s Go And Eat restaurant,” she said.

In 2018, Volha Czajczyc became Belsat TV Person Of the Year. Our colleague focuses on street protests and social problems. Volha has constantly been under pressure for her scorching reports from different parts of the country. Last year eleven administrative cases were opened, which has resulted in imposing heavy fines on her.

HRC Viasna: Belsat TV journalists got heaviest fines in 2018

Belsat TV, which has been broadcasting for over 11 years, has been denied accreditation for its journalists. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly declared that it could not issue any accreditation to Belsat because the journalists working for the TV station … break the law.

Thus, the circle closes: journalists are denied accreditation because they break the law and they break the law, because they work without accreditation that they seek… And it explains the existence of absurdist Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code, which provides punishment for ‘illegal production and distribution of media products’. If you have accreditation, you are allowed be a journalist. If you do not have it – you are outlawed.


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