Picks of the week
Freedom of expression is still severely curtailed in Belarus. This includes repressions against journalists and vocal critics of the regime.
On July 23, Belsat reporters Ales Dzianisau and Aliaksei Kairys were detained in Hrodna by people in plain clothes. After that, their apartments were searched by the police and computer equipment was seized.
The search warrant said that the journalists faced criminal charges of libel, which is reportedly linked to a Belsat report about the poor living conditions in a dormitory in Hrodna.
According to Ales Dzianisau, a police officer told them to “stop working with Belsat”.
On July 24, vlogger Siarhei Piatrukhin faced criminal charges of insulting a police officer. The police also searched his house.
Siarhei Piatrukhin is famous for shooting critical videos, in particular covering the many months of protests against the construction of a battery plant in Brest. Back in May, his home was searched by the police and his equipment was taken. Also, he has been repeatedly detained, fined and served several sentences of administrative detention.
If found guilty, the vlogger may be sentenced to a heavy fine or limitation of freedom.
On July 23, LGBT rights activist Vika Biran was awarded another fine for protesting against the Interior Ministry’s homophobic statements.
This was the activist’s second trial on the same charges. She was expected to stand one more trial, but it has been called off after the expiration of the statute of limitations (two months in administrative proceedings).
- You said you did not like the position of the Ministry of Interior and wished to express your position, didn’t you?
- With the help of photos, Your Honor.
- And for what purpose did you pose for photos in this specific place?
- I was walking along the streets and I thought those would be beautiful pictures.
- And why did you say that the people “who insult me and my friends” sit in these buildings?
- These people, Your Honor, sit in very beautiful buildings.