In Belarus, law enforcement officers broke into the Belsat studio in Minsk, there are detainees

There is currently no exact information on the number of detainees.

Belarusian law enforcement officers broke into the Minsk studio of Belsat TV channel, and technical staff of the studio were detained.

According to the broadcaster, TV presenter Gleb Lobadzenko was also detained, but he was later released by police. Lobadzenko does not currently have exact information on how many editorial staff members were detained.

On February 18, 2021, a  court in Minsk sentenced two employees of the Belsat TV channel, Kateryna Bakhvalova and Darya Chultsova, to two years in a maximum security penal colony  . They were found guilty of “organizing and preparing actions that grossly violate public order.” In fact, the journalists were convicted of streaming, during which they filmed the violent dispersal of a peaceful rally in memory of the deceased activist Roman Bondarenko.

Kateryna Andreeva is the co-author of the  book “Belarusian Donbass” about Belarusians who are fighting in Donbass . This book was recognized by the Belarusian authorities as “extremist”.

On May 18, the Belarusian authorities launched a new attack on freedom of speech in the country. In particular,  law enforcement officers conducted large-scale searches in Minsk and regional offices of the largest media portal Tut.by , searches were also conducted at the home of editor-in-chief Marina Zolotova, editors and journalists. The publication’s website is blocked in Belarus.

A criminal case was instituted against the management of Tut Bai Media under Part 2 of Article 243 (evasion of taxes and fees in a particularly large amount). The maximum penalty of the article is imprisonment for up to seven years.

In April 2021,  the Belarusian parliament passed amendments to the Law on Mass Media and the Law on Mass Events, which include a ban on covering unauthorized protests , video streams, a ban on publishing polls, and other measures to restrict freedom of the press. The authorities will also be able to close access to the “mirrors” of blocked sites under a simplified procedure. The amendments will take effect after they are signed by self-proclaimed President Alexander Lukashenko. 

Photo: Radio Liberty

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