Freelance journalist Inna Dobrotvor was arrested in late November 2020, while she was covering the “March of the Neighbors” protest rally in Minsk, the capital. She was one of dozens of journalists detained for documenting widespread demonstrations in the second half of 2020 calling on President Aleksandr Lukashenko to resign.
Dobrotvor is a Minsk-based freelance journalist covering social and political issues; since the beginning of the demonstrations against Lukashenko in August 2020, she has been working as a freelance correspondent, contributing videos and photographs of the protests without byline or credit due to safety concerns, according to her husband, journalist Ilya Dobrotvor, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app after he and his wife were released on December 1, 2020, and Barys Haretski, the deputy head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, an independent trade group, who spoke with CPJ in a phone interview. According to those sources, the name of the outlet where she published her work could not be disclosed, also due to safety concerns.
Police detained Dobrotvor and took her to the Zavodsky district police department on November 29, 2020, when she was covering the “March of the neighbors,” a protest rally held in Minsk demanding Lukashenko’s resignation, according to news reports. She was detained on allegations of “participating in an unsanctioned event,” and was held at the Center for the Isolation of Offenders in Minsk, informally known as Akrestsin detention center, according to reports.
On December 1, Zavodsky district court of Minsk found Dobrotvor guilty on two charges, participating in an unsanctioned event and resisting police, issued her a fine of 1,215 rubles (US$469), and released the journalist on the same day, according to her husband, who also told CPJ that Inna Dobrotvor did not admit her guilt in court.
Police in Belarus have been routinely arresting and charging journalists covering the antigovernment protests with “participating in unsanctioned rallies,” and sentencing them to short stays in prison or fines, CPJ has documented.
Dobrotvor’s husband told CPJ that she had no health complaints while in detention.
In November 2020, CPJ emailed a request for comment to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, but did not receive any response.