Case   |   Belarus

Journalists arrested covering opposition rally

August 31, 2006
Posted: September 25, 2006

Galina Abakunchik Radio Free Europe /Radio Liberty
Sergei Pulsha, Belapan
Yuliya Doroshkevich, Nasha Niva
Yelena Yakzhuk, Solidarnost
Yekatirina Gerasimov, Vladislav Pyatnitsa, Pavluk Konovalchik, Navinki
Anastasiya Nikazakova, Yevgeny Shetov, Idimedia
Olga Mariyasnova, Igor Khodko, Bobruisky Kuryer

HARASSED

Police detained 11 journalists covering an opposition demonstration in the town square in the eastern city of Bobruisk. The demonstration was led by Ales Chigir, a city coun?il member, after the executive committee of the local board of education decided not to renew his contract as a history teacher, a position he held for 13 years.

Chigir claims he was fired for political reasons. He protested the decision by chaining himself to a lamppost close to the Executive Committee’s building. After only ten minutes, the police aggressively dispersed the demonstration arresting Chigir and the journalists, local press reported.

According to local press reports, Doroshkevich said that police beat her and threatened to charge her with hooliganism, which is punishable by 15 days in jail.

After spending three hours in jail, all of the journalists were released without charge. Upon their release, the police returned their documents and equipment. According to Abakunchik, however, police erased some of the pictures and recordings she had made during the protest, RFE/RL reported.

Bobruisky Kuryer editor-in-chief Anatoly Sanotenko told CPJ Mariyasnova’s camera was also returned without the pictures she had taken.

Chigir remains in custody. Authorities have charged him with resisting arrest and demonstrating without permission. Local press has reported that police beat Chigir and injured his hand while in custody.

Chigir was the head of the campaign headquarters for President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s main rival, opposition candidate Aleksandr Milinkevich during the March presidential elections.

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