Click here to read CPJ’s protest letter

New York, March 27, 2000 — A total of thirty-five journalists were among the hundreds detained in connection with a demonstration held Saturday March 25 in the Belarus capital, Minsk.

The demonstration was held to protest the official ban on a march that was to have been part of opposition-staged festivities commemorating the 1918 founding of the Belarusian National Republic. Over 7000 protesters attended the rally, which was held on the outskirts of Minsk.

Over 2000 helmeted riot police detained the journalists, who were covering the rally for local and overseas media, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists. Photographers and correspondents from the Belarus newspapers Nasha Svaboda, Belorusskaya Gazeta, Pravo Na Volyu, Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta, Svobodnye Novosti, Narodnaya Svaboda, Zvyazda, Nasha Niva, Maladzevy Praspect, Navinki and Rabochy were detained, along with two local TV cameramen.

Foreign journalists from Russia, Poland, France, and the United States were also detained, and some were beaten. Police beat up correspondents from the Russian television channels ORT and RTR, for example, and deliberately damaged their equipment. [Click here for a list of the detained journalists.]

All the detainees were forced into police vehicles and taken to an Interior Ministry facility in Minsk. Some were illegally searched, and they were not allowed to contact colleagues, family or friends. Film shot by press photographers was reportedly confiscated and exposed. Police provided no explanation for detaining the journalists.

All the journalists were freed by mid-afternoon, though up to a hundred other detainees, including opposition leaders, remained in custody. Emma Gray, Europe program coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, urged the Belarus authorities to investigate the incident: “We deplore the illegal detention of the journalists, who were covering a peaceful opposition demonstration. We call on the Belarus government to investigate reports of police brutality, and bring those responsible to justice.”



1. Alexander Kolpakov, TV Channel NTV (Russia)
2. Konstantin Morozov, TV Channel NTV (Russia)
3. Yelena Lukashevich, TV Channel RTR (Russia)
4. Sergey Pushkin, TV Channel RTR (Russia)
5. Dmitry Novozhilov, TV Channel ORT (Russia)
6. Dmitry Zavadsky, TV Channel ORT (Russia)
7. Marja Vernikovska, TV Polonia 1 (Poland)
8. Shimon Gelevsky, TV Polonia 1 (Poland)
9. Yegor Mayorchik, Radio Liberty
10. Mikhas Stelmach, Radio Liberty
11. Yury Drakokhurst, Radio Liberty
12. Algerd Nevyarousky, Nasha Svaboda
13. Larisa Klyuchnikova, ITAR-TASS (Russia)
14. Dmitry Yermak, Belorusskaya Gazeta
15. Polina Stepanenko, Pravo Na Volyu
16. Aleg Grudzilovich, Nasha Svaboda, board member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists
17. Irina Khalip, Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta
18. Alexander Tomkovich, Svobodnye Novosti, deputy president, Belarusian Association of Journalists
19. Valery Kalinovsky, Zvyazda
20. Tatyana Snitko, Nasha Niva
21. Marina Babkina, Associated Press
22. Alexander Tichonov, Maladzevy Praspect
23. Arsen Storulis, Navinki
24. Valentin Gernovich, Rabochy
25. Viktor Ivashkevich, Rabochy
26. Lyubov Lyuneva, Radio Liberty
27. Yury Dzedinkin, press photographer
28. Vladimir Kormilkin, press photographer
29. Viktor Drachev, press photographer
30. Slavomir Adamovich, Nasha Niva
31. Leonid Kanfer, TVC
32. Alexei Pokrovsky, TVC
33. Vadim Kaznacheev, Nasha Svaboda
34. Valery Schukin, Nardodnaya Volya (detained in Vitebsk)
35. Alexei Schydlovsky, Nasha Svaboda