Minsk: Journalists detained en masse in Freedom Square

On Thursday evening, over a dozen media workers covering the current developments in Minsk were detained in Freedom Square.

Uniformed and plainclothed policemen strongly urged Belsat TV contributors Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Max Kalitouski, as well as our colleagues from other media outlets (Alyaksandr Vasyukovich, Vadzim Zamirouski, Zakhar Shcharbakou, Syarhei Satsyuk, Uladzimir Kostsin, Alyaksandr Yarashevich, Stanislau Sharshukou, Nadzeya Buzhan, Dzmitry Lavetski, Uladz Hrydzin and others) to get in the van.

They were taken to Kastrychnitski district police department, where they were banned from using mobile phones. The policemen said they just wanted to check the detainees’ documents, but then they started to film the journalists without giving any reason.

A bit later, the press secretary of the Interior Ministry commented on the situation, promising that all the foreign journalists who have accreditation and representatives of registered Belarusian mass media would be released.

Belarus authorities’ hunt for journalists amid post-election protests

Belsat TV, which has been broadcasting for over 12 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, according to them, 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, which provides punishment for ‘illegal production and distribution of media products’. If one has accreditation, they are allowed to perform journalistic duties, if not – their activity is outlawed.