Belarusian police detained 47 local and international journalists preparing to cover protests in Minsk and Brest, on Thursday. According to the European Federation of Journalists the police confiscated their telephones and identity documents. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) considers these arbitrary detentions as another act of censorship by the Belarusian authorities.
The Belarusian Interior Ministry later denied the journalists had been detained. It said the journalists had been driven to the Oktyabrsky District Department of Internal Affairs for officers to check they had valid accreditation allowing them to work as journalists.
Most of these journalists had planned to cover a demonstration in which hundreds of anti-government protesters marched in central Minsk on Thursday evening.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) has drawn up a list of arbitrarily detained journalists, on Thursday, in Minsk and Brest:
Sergey Satsyuk, BelaPAN;
Zakhar Shcherbakov, BelaPAN;
Press photographer Alexander Vasyukovich;
Nadezhda Buzhan, Nasha Niva;
Victor Drachev, France Press;
Vasily Fedosenko, Reuters;
Vadim Zamirovsky, TUT.BY.;
Stanislav Sharshukov, TUT.BY.;
Dmitry Lovetsky, AP;
Ekaterina Andreeva, Belsat;
Vladimir Kostin, Reuters;
Sergey Bobylev, TASS;
Evgeny Odinokov, RIA Novosti;
Pavel Martinchik, Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus;
Dmitry Steshin, Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus;
Press photographer Evgeny Erchak;
Vlad Gridin, Radio Svaboda;
Andrzej Zaucha, TVN Poland;
Andrei Rabchik, Radio Svaboda;
Oleg Gruzdilovich, Radio Liberty;
Paul Hansen, photographer (Swedish citizen);
Lesha Sudnikov, TUT.BY.;
Tatiana Korovenkova, BelaPAN;
Alexandra Boguslavskaya, DW;
Lisa Vereykina, BBC;
Steve Rosenberg, BBC;
Sergey Gapon, AFP.
“These so-called accreditation checks are just a pretext to prevent journalists from covering the massive demonstrations against electoral fraud and police violence,” said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. “It is high time for the international community to react. An OSCE mission to Belarus is urgently needed. We call again on the OSCE participating states to activate the so-called Moscow Mechanism in order to allow the sending of this international mission.”