Minsk: Journalists on trial as ‘participants in unauthorised mass event’

On Thursday evening, 47 foreign and Belarusian media workers who were covering protest and solidarity rallies in Minsk were detained in Freedom Square and adjacent streets.

Belsat TV journalist Katsyaryna Andreyeva on trial via video link. Minsk, Belarus. 28 August 2020. Photo: belsat.eu

In Kastrychnitski police station, most of foreign journalists who got accreditation from Belarus’ MFA and representatives of registered Belarusian mass media were released after their documents were checked. However, the policemen seized phones, laptops, cameras, pendrives from some Belarusian reporters and photographers.

Kastrychnitski district police department in Minsk 27 August 2020. Photo: Belsat.eu

Belsat TV crew (journalist Katsyaryna Andreyeva and cameraman Maksim Kalitouski), photographer Alyaksandr Vasyukovich, Current Time cameraman Andrey Yarashevich had to stay overnight in Kastrychnitski district police department on the back of their refusal to let police officers check out their mobile phones. The policemen drew protocols under Art. 23.34-1 (violating rules of holding mass events) on them, which implies that the four detainees will be tried for allegedly taking part in ‘unauthorised mass event’. It should be noted that the media workers were not participating in protests on August 27; they were performing their journalistic duties and covering the events in Belarus.

Photographer Alyaksandr Vasyukovich on trial via video link. Minsk, Belarus. 28 August 2020. Photo: belsat.eu

At about 12.20 (Minsk time), trials of Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Alyaksandr Vasyukovich started. The journalists have not been taken to courts, they are being tried via video link.

(UPD 18.00) All four detainees – Katsyaryna Andreyeva, Alyaksandr Vasyukovich, Andrey Yarashevich, Maksim Kalitouski – have been released, their cases have been sent back to the police department for reviewing, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reports.