New York, January 18, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists deplores the ongoing imprisonment of independent journalists in Belarus and urges authorities to cease their crackdown and release all jailed reporters and editors. On Monday, authorities in Minsk and the eastern city of Mogilev jailed two more independent reporters on politicized charges.
Boris Goretsky, a local reporter for Poland-based Radio Racyja, was arrested by KGB officers in front of the agency’s detention facility in Minsk, local press reports said. Goretsky was interviewing relatives of people being held by the KGB, the independent news website Charter 97 reported. Today, Goretsky was taken to a local court in Minsk, where he was sentenced to 14 days in jail for alleged participation in December 19 protest rallies. Goretsky covered the rally for Radio Racyja, the Belarusian Association of Journalists reported.
Also Monday, police in Mogilev arrested reporter Yevgeny Vaskovich at his apartment, his newspaper, Bobruisky Kuryer, reported. Police told the journalist’s mother that Vaskovich was sentenced to 10 days in jail for “hooliganism” that allegedly occurred on December 16, the paper reported. The newspaper said neither its staffers nor Vaskovich’s relatives were aware of any such “hooligan” incidents. Vaskovich was among more than 20 journalists imprisoned at the December 19 protests in Minsk; he spent 12 days in jail, Bobruisky Kuryer said.
“The KGB prison in Minsk has become a revolving door for reporters,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “It’s not the journalists in Belarus who are the hooligans. It’s high time the government ended its media crackdown, released all jailed journalists, and returned equipment seized in its numerous raids on reporters’ homes and offices.”
At least four journalists are imprisoned in Belarus as of today, CPJ research shows, although more than two dozen have been jailed for brief periods since the flawed December 19 presidential elections. After the vote, Belarusian authorities have been relentlessly imprisoning independent journalists, detaining them for interrogation, raiding their apartments and newsrooms, and confiscating their reporting equipment.