Sarah Rainsford took part in Lukashenko’s eight-hour press conference and was one of the few media outlets to ask him tough questions about mass detentions, repression and torture.
Russia has refused to extend a visa for Moscow-based BBC correspondent Sarah Rainsford. This was reported by Bloomberg.
Russian state media reported that the decision was made by the Russian Foreign Ministry as revenge for Britain, which refuses to issue visas to some members of the Russian media. Therefore, the journalist must leave the country by August 31, when her current visa expires.
Sarah Rainsford and the BBC in Moscow have not yet commented.
On August 9, Ms. Rainsford took part in an eight-hour press conference between the self-proclaimed President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, and was one of the few media outlets who asked him tough questions. The journalist then said the following:
“A lot has happened in response to last year’s peaceful protests. We have seen mass arrests, about 40,000 people detained, we have seen the torture of detainees. And many people just had to go, they are afraid to stay here. Another 610 people are in prisons, pre-trial detention centers, political prisoners. This includes journalists who led the protests. And professors, human rights activists are also sitting.
The question is: after such brutality, after such repressions, how do you personally answer the question – both here in Belarus and abroad – that you have lost your legitimacy as president and that now Belarus needs change. “
She also asked Lukashenko’s opinion on the new economic sanctions imposed by Switzerland on Belarus that day.
Lukashenko responded that the people who went to the protests were the first to show aggression:
“We have already touched on this issue. And then you, as a big company, will tell the whole world what a cruel person she is and how badly she answered these questions. This is the context of your questions and this is the mood.
You said that last year’s peaceful [protests] – and this is the key word, “peaceful” – and I was cruel. You were not, but you say that there was cruelty and there were peaceful actions. If your producer saw this (the journalist answered the clarifying question that she was not allowed to enter Belarus during the protests, but her producer was present there – ed.), Then, sorry, he is just a blind man. What are these peaceful actions? Take even now look at these shots that these crazy people threw out on the Internet, look at this Polish channel, Belsat, look at Radio Svoboda and others.
Here are all these explosions, firecrackers and other things, all kinds of explosives flew, it is clear where they flew. You will say that this is in response to cruelty – and no, they brought them there. There was no violence or clashes yet, they came there with these ammunition. What kind of peace is this? Sharpeners, knives, other explosives – why did they bring it there? Therefore, there was no smell of peaceful actions. By the way, we treated it much softer than your patron in Washington. “
The journalist noted that she was not from the United States, but from Great Britain. Lukashenko replied that these countries were “brothers” and “satellites.” He accused the protesters and Western countries of wounding 11 riot police, as well as “propaganda, war and coup attempts.”
“As for legitimacy – consult with specialists, with lawyers. They will tell you that legitimacy is not when you define it in six months because of cruelty, legitimacy is the result of elections. That’s why it’s just an illiterate question, “he added .
As for sanctions, Lukashenko said at the time that Britain “could drown in them”: “We have not known this Britain for a thousand years and we do not want to know. You are American henchmen . “
It will be recalled that repressions have been going on in Belarus since 2020 after the presidential election, in which Alexander Lukashenko “won”. Authorities brutally suppressed peaceful protests and launched a campaign to intimidate the opposition and the independent press – journalists, opposition politicians, and the media were detained in Belarus.