Nearly 300 detained in Minsk protest
Viasna’s arrest list has once again hit third-digits, after some 240 protesters, mostly men, and 30 journalists were detained last night in central Minsk.
Although the police refrained from using violence and riot gear, they chose to disperse a procession of at least a thousand demonstrators who gathered near the city’s main Orthodox cathedral on Freedom Square. After the protesters, many of whom were carrying icons, reached their destination, the Catholic church of Saints Simon and Helena, also known as the Red Church, they were surrounded by dozens of riot policemen, who detained men, but allowed women to walk free.
The demonstration was held as a response to a similar protest the previous day, when several dozen people were blocked in the Red Church, while at least thirty people were detained outside.
As a result of yesterday’s mass detentions, numerous people were taken to district police departments and held their overnight. Some of them were released during the night after facing “illegal protesting” charges and are expected to stand trials soon.
Ahead of the protest, police detained seventeen journalists on Freedom Square, who were ushered into a police bus and driven to the nearest police station for “identification”, although the reporters were carrying their press IDs with them. Twelve more journalists, including several foreign nationals and/or working with foreign media, were detained together with protesters on Independence Square, again despite having valid IDs.
The journalists were reportedly forced to unlock their smartphones. Those who refused faced administrative charges. Photos and videos were erased from devices. Photo equipment was seized, too.
Four reporters, Belsat TV reporters Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Maksim Harchanok, photo journalist Aliaksandr Vasiukovich, and Current Time TV cameraman Andrei Yarashevich, are expected to stand trials today.