All journalists were released, but the information from their cameras was erased. Minsk police claims this to be a simple ID check.
Camera operator Aliaksandr Barazienka, photo correspondent for Associated Press Siarhiej Hryc and Reuters Viktar Fiadosienka, Tacciana Ziankovich and Paval Padabied (BelaPAN) and also activists of Zmiena (youth wing of “Tell the Truth!” movement) Aliaksandr Arcabyshau and Paval Vinahradau were captured several minutes ago during a rally in Minsk, baj.by. The journalists of German TV channel ZDF are also said to be among detained.
The activists of Zmiena held an election agitation rally and served out borsch. Thus the activists symbolically referred to the words of Central Election Commission Chairperson Lidzija Jarmoshyna who advised the women to sit home and cook borsch but not to participate in mass protests after the presidential elections in 2010.
After the rally unknown civil-dressed persons started beating and capturing the activists and journalists.
Journalists are reported to be injured, they are not available on the phones at the moment.
The deputy Chairperson of Belarusian Association of Journalists Andrej Bastuniec says assaulting journalists who shoot any public event (both sanctioned and unsanctioned) is a severe violation of the law on mass media.
In case hurting journalists and damaging equipment will be confirmed, a criminal case may be initiated, he says.
Minsk Police press secretary Aliaksandr Lastouski commented on the situation: “It wasn’t arrest. Their documents and accreditations were checked and then they were released.”
Siarhiej Hryc, the photo correspondent for Associated Press, says he was hit in his right eye, his glasses were broken.
“They violently forced us to the bus, took away the equipment. Any demands to show IDs and to find out why they are capturing journalists were harshly interrupted,”Siarhiej Hryc said in an interview with Nasha Niva. The civil dressed people also took away phones from those who tried to call.
When taken to a police station, all were seated in a conference room. All the equipment was placed on one table.
“I spent two hours in different offices, without being questioned. My passport was taken away and they have probably found out who I am by themselves.”
All the journalists were released without any charges. However, Siarhiej Hryc says all the photos of the rally were erased from his camera.
Paviel Vinahradau remains at the police station.