“They put stickers ‘Belsat’ on my equipment and seized it.” Belarus police fabricate evidence?

Detained Alyaksandr Lyubyanchuk after the raid, 31.03.2017

Cameraman Alyaksandr Lyubanchuk filed a complaint against the police officers who raided Belsat TV offices in Minsk last Friday.

Along with 9 Belsat TV computers, the police seized a GoPro camera, a video camera, a picture camera, microphone which belong to the cameraman. Lyubyanchuk, who is accredited by the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, was taken to a police station and questioned as a witness in an administrative proceeding. As it turned out, the formal reason for the withdrawal of the equipment was Mr Belyakou’s complainment about the alleged copyright infringement related to the ‘Belsat’ trademark.

On Monday, Ales Lyubyanchuk, who oficially contributes to the Polish Public Television (TVP) visited the police station to reclaim his own equipment.

After the search. Belsat TV office in Minsk

“Even before the search started, I was being kept in a room where there was no equipment. Several other police officers went to the other rooms in spite of my demand not to do that before the arrival of witnesses. Thus, I did not see what they were doing there, but when witnesses came and the search formally started, I noticed that stickers with Belsat logo appeared on all pieces of equipment which were in the other rooms. Such stickers were also on my own cameras which where in the backpack,” Lyubyanchuk stresses.

All the equipment was taken as evidence.

The cameraman failed to get his belongings back. At the police station he was told that the officer who is in charge of the Belsat Tv case was away.

Another journalist swearing and waving his arms?

After the search, which was officially callled ‘inspection’, an administrative case was initiated against Alyaksandr Luybyanchuk. He is accused of using foul language and insulting a police officer.

“After I was questioned, another police officer came. He did not introduce himself. He said that a protocol under Article 17.1 of the Administrative Code was being drawn upon me – according to the article, I was swearing, but he wrote in his own report that I had not react to his comments,” says Lyubyanchuk.

Ales Barazenka, another contributor to Belsat TV, was arrested on March 25 when covering the protest march in Minsk and later accused of ‘disorderly conduct’ and sentenced to 15 days in jail. According to riot policemen who were witnessing in court Ales was shouting, waving his hands, using bad language. After being detained, Ales Barazenka went on hunger-strike in protest.

While in a paddy wagon, Ales Barazenka got in touch with our colleagues in the studio. Our cameraman tried to start a live stream from the paddy wagon, but due to the disruption of the 3G and 4G network it lasted for a short time.

In the video above, one hears Barazenka saying ‘I am a journalist! I am a journalist!’ when the police were arresting him. No strong language is used. There is a rhetoric question: do the Belarusian authorities consider these words profanity?


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