Minsk: journalists are detained while performing their professional duties

2009 2009-10-01T18:51:35+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The leader of the Communist Party of Belarus Siarhei Kaliakin was detained while handing out Tovarishch newspaper near the entrance of Minsk Tractor Plant.

The press service of the Belarusian Association of Journalists learned this from Henadz Kesner, who was present at the picket as a Novy Chas newspaper correspondent. Some minutes later Kesner phoned again and said he had been detained by people in mufti for ‘identification’.

The journalist didn’t answer the phone for some time. He was available on the phone at about 4:10 p.m. and said he was at Partyzanski district police department, where he had been guarded to with Syarhei Kaliakin.

BAJ deputy head Andrei Bastunets contacted an officer on duty who said he didn’t have any information about the detained journalist. Bastunets assured the officer that the information was reliable, Henadz Kesner had been detained while performing his professional duties, and demanded to release his colleague. At about 4:30 p.m., Kesner said he had been set free after inspection of documents.

Another journalist was detained at 3:00 p.m. near the entrance to Minsk Automobile Plant, where the secretary of the Communist Party of Belarus Valer Ukhnaliou was also handing out Tovarishch. Deputy editor-in-chief of the newspaper Zmitser Yanenka was watching the action. Ukhnaliou and Yaneka were detained by people in mufti, who introduced themselves as police officers.

Though Yanenka had a journalist certificate, he and Ukhnaliou were guarded to Zavadski district police department. The journalist was seized documents, a mobile phone and a camera. All pictures of the action were deleted. All copies of Tovarishch were confiscated. The detainees spent almost three hours at the police department. They were freed after major Vashkevich drew up a report against them.