Minsk police detain all journos who were about to cover solidarity event near KGB

On Tuesday, the police detained Belsat TV contributors Halina Abakunchyk, Antos Syalitski, Katsyaryna Andreyeva, Ihar Ilyash, Maksim Harchanok, Nasta Reznikava, as well as freelance journalist Tatsyana Kapitonava, Alena Talkachova (TUT.BY), Natallya Fedosenka (TASS).

The media workers were supposed to report from the announced submitting of people’s vouch letters regarding the case of might-have-been presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka to the State Security Committee (KGB) in Minsk.

A day earlier, Maryia Kalesnikava, a coordinator at Babaryka’s campaign office, urged Belarusians to contribute to mitigating pre-trial restrictions imposed on the imprisoned presidential hopeful and his son Eduard. In particular, Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich and artist Uladzimir Tsesler expressed their readiness to vouch for the arrested politician.

“We want to ask everyone who cares, everyone who put their faith in Viktar and Eduard, to become their guarantors so that the measure of restriction could be changed. To do this, one need to write an application and file it to the State Security Committee (KGB). A link to the application will be available soon. I am going to file the application to the KGB on Tuesday, at 16:00. Should there be a lot of us, get in line,” Kalesnikava said.

However, at about 15:00, special equipment and traffic police cars appeared near the KGB building in downtown Minsk.

(UPD) Almost al the detainees were released; Kapitonava, Reznikava and Harchanka were taken to Tsentralny district police department; they had to spend 2-3 hours there.

“The detention is part of the special services’ and police’s action spearheaded against journalists and Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya‘s supporters. Our colleagues did not break the law and did not even have time to start performing their professional duties. The police are deliberately discrediting the state and trying to block access to independent information,” Belsat TV Information Programming Director Zmitser Yahorau says.

According to eyewitnesses, the police officers also grabbed the people who came to the KGB headquarters to support Viktar Babaryka. At about 16:40, seven persons standing in line were reportedly put into a minibus and taken in an unknown direction.

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