Hrodna Police Harass Exit Pollers
Hrodna police gives chase to volunteers of the Independent Institute of Socio-Economic Studies doing exit poll at polling stations. One exit poller has been detained and is kept in Leninski police station. Others were visited at home by police officers who demanded they should give out their mobile phones.
The formal ground for persecution of volunteers is an anonymous report that the mobile phones they are using have been stolen.
In the morning of October 15 Leninski borough police detained Alaksei Salei, one of the exit pollers. First the police kept him in the police station for 3 hours. The police hid his detention. The duty policeman did not confirm Salei’s detention to Pahonia reporter.
Meanwhile, investigators took Salei to the homes of other exit pollers.
Pahonia reporter managed to find out the address of the house where the police carried out a search. Having dialed the house phone number, the reporter managed to talk to Salei.
-- Two police officers came to my house. They claimed I sold mobile phones. Then they ordered me to follow them to a police station. I have to be around them all the time. They don’t allow me to make a phone call or stir a step from their side, although I keep demanding that, -- states Alaksei Salei.
Police claim they suspect that mobile phones ISEPS volunteers are using have been stolen.
Only late in the night Alaksei Salei, one of exit poll coordinators in Hrodna.
Special services staff, who introduced themselves as police officers from Minsk board for organized crime, were interested in mobile phones used by exit pollers. Despite all questions of the detainee these people did not introduce themselves.
-- They were interested in the numbers of mobile phones we use to transmit information. Finally, they managed to find out one of the phone numbers during visits to other exit pollers, -- says Salei.
After that the special services officers tried to recruit Alaksei.
-- I was offered cooperation. They said I could open the doors which to them were closed. I refused to cooperate, -- says Salei.
He thinks the special services managed to paralyze the exit poll yesterday, which became the main outcome of their actions.
Despite intimidation attempts, Hrodna exit pollers will continue to work.