Journalists and authors have been affected by the ongoing wave of repression in the country.
The Committee to Protect Journalists and PEN America raise concerns about the fact that Belarusian authorities have arrested, detained or otherwise obstructed at least 32 journalists and authors in the past few weeks. Human rights groups urge to immediately drop all charges and release them.
Among those arrested are publisher Miraslau Lazouski (Miroslav Lozovsky) and bookseller Ales Yaudakha (Ales Yevdakho). They were arrested by masked riot police officers just outside the location where a literary festival was held. Both are charged with alleged preparing mass unrest. Lazouski was brutally beaten by police, his home was searched.
In Pinsk, a town in southeast Belarus, journalist Viktar Yarashuk (Viktor Yaroshuk), who works for Poland-based independent TV company Belsat, was detained. He was fined for “producing and distributing mass media materials” without the government’s permission.
Two more Belsat’s journalists, Andrei Tolchyn and Kanstantin Zhukouski (Konstantin Zhukovski), were detained by security services as they were filming a factory in Dobrush, a town in southeast Belarus. Zhukouski was later detained again in Mozyr where he was going to cover local protests against the authorities.
Journalists Liubou Luniova (Liubov Luniova) and Volha Davydava (Olga Davydova) were detained in Minsk when they were interviewing wives of arrested activists outside a jail. Journalists Ales Liauchuk (Ales Levchuk) and Milana Kharytonava (Milana Kharitonova) were detained and beaten in the town of Kobryn, their equipment was damaged and seized.
Brutal nationwide arrests and detentions in the past few weeks are connected with preparations for celebrating the proclamation of the first independent Belarusian republic, which is not recognised by the country’s official authorities. The Belarusian People’s Republic was founded on March 25, 1918. It existed for two years before being destroyed by Bolsheviks. The country got under control of the Red Army. The rally to celebrate the anniversary in Minsk is scheduled for 14:00 on Saturday, March 25. Activists call on people in regions to go to central squares of their towns the next day and protest against the government’s actions and the declining economic situation in the absence of reforms.
A series of protests against the presidential decree imposing a tax on unemployed people and a fall in living standards in the country in general has been continuing in Belarus since the middle of February. More than 260 people have been arrested in the country in the past month. Most of them were sentenced to short terms in jail or fined. The total sum of fines has exceeded $20,000. Most of those in custody were arbitrary arrested and thrown into jail for from 10 to 15 days though their guilt wasn’t confirmed. Many were detained for taking part in sanctioned rallies or arrested preventively without even a hint at any wrongdoing. Many activists were severely beaten and injured by police.
Belarus’s cultural community urge the country’s authorities to stop repression and arbitrary detentions and arrests, stop prosecuring activists, respect the country’s Constitution and international human rights obligations assumed by the country. The appeal has been singed by more than 300 artists and cultural figures.Subscribe to our mailing list: