Vitaly Sizov was detained last night at the request of Russia. He was ordered to leave the country.

At around 2.45am, Belarusian law-enforcers detained journalist Vitaly Sizov in a room in a Minsk hotel, where a filming crew of the independent Donbas Public TV was staying. The journalist was forcefully taken to a police station where he stayed until morning. The journalist was freed at around 7am. He was told to leave Belarus within 24 hours.

Ukrainian journalists arrived in Minsk to cover a meeting of the trilateral contact group on Donbas. The talks were scheduled for February 1. Vitaly Sizov and his colleague, project founder Oleksiy Matsuka, confirm the journalist was earlier granted official press accreditation by the Belarusian Foreign Ministry. Neither he nor the filming crew violated the country’s law. They stayed in Belarus and worked as journalists in an absolutely legal way.

As it turned out, Sizov was detained because Russia had added him to a blacklist and denied him entry into the country until 2021. The police told the journalist that as Russia and Belarus were a union state, the ban also extended to Sizov’s staying in Minsk. The journalist says Belarusian police emphasised several times the entry ban was an initiative of Russia and underlined Belarus had nothing to do with it. Sizov failed to learn reasons for the travel ban. He was ordered to leave Belarus within 24 hours.

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