Three correspondents of the Nastoye Vremya TV channel (a joint project of Radio Liberty and Voice of America) Irina Romaliyskaya, Yuri Baranyuk and Ivan Grebenyuk, who covered the presidential elections in Belarus, were detained and expelled from the country with an entry ban for 10 years.
As reported on website channel, on August 7 riot militiamen and riot police came with a search to the hotel “Minsk”, where the journalists were staying. The lodgers were taken to the police station and interrogated about their activities on the territory of Belarus. For several hours, the journalists’ colleagues did not know where they were and what they were accused of. Their phones were blocked. Later it became known that the journalists were put on a plane to Odessa.
Irina Romaliyskaya is a citizen of Ukraine, host of the Evening program, the main news program of the Present Time. Ivan Grebenyuk is a Ukrainian journalist working for “Present Time” in Prague .. Yuri Baranyuk is a citizen of Russia, the channel’s own correspondent in St. Petersburg.
“As far as I understand, the reason was yesterday’s broadcast of Present Tense. The staff interrogating us told me the points from which I switched on,” Romaliyskaya said in Facebook… On August 6, the TV channel conducted a four-hour special broadcast from the disrupted rally of the presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. It is noted that only in social networks it was viewed more than half a million times.
According to Romaliyskaya, the security forces threatened to send the journalists to the SIZO and take away their equipment, but there was no strong pressure. As it became known later, the detention and expulsion of the correspondents was related to the status of their accreditation. Daisy Sindelar, Acting President of the Radio Liberty / Radio Free Europe media corporation, said that the channel had requested accreditation for its employees before the presidential elections in time, but they were not provided with it. The documents are still under consideration at the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.
“The refusal of the authorities to accredit our journalists in a timely manner is another example of disregard for the rights of a free press and the right of Belarusian citizens to information without censorship. We are outraged by the detention of our journalists and demand that the authorities observe the internationally recognized right of journalists to carry out their professional activities,” Sindelar said … She noted that the correspondents of the “Present Time” “honestly and professionally carried out their work on covering the presidential elections in the Republic of Belarus.”
In late July, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko ordered to expel foreign journalists who “do not comply with our laws and invite people to the Maidans.” He particularly criticized the work of the BBC and Radio Liberty / Free Europe. “I’m not talking about tendentiousness, they are calling for riots. Why do you tolerate this? You accredited them here. There is no need to wait for any end of the electoral campaign. Expel them from here if they do not comply with our laws and call people to the Maidans,” – Lukashenka demanded.
Instead of “destructive” articles, the head of state advised, as under Soviet rule, to make reports about the harvest campaign. “Tell us about these ordinary people – hard workers who feed the country. All tomorrow they will run to the shops, these scribblers, to buy a piece of bread for themselves, relatives, friends, children,” Lukashenko explained.
In addition, on August 7, the Ministry of Information of Belarus issued a letter to the portal Tut.by for the dissemination of “unreliable information that may harm the state or public interests.” As such, the department considered an article on violations recorded during early voting by observers who could not be among those who are allowed to be at polling stations.
Observer Alexander Yakubovsky, officially accredited to the 19th precinct in the village of Smilovichi, Chervensky district, spoke about his calculations (21 voters came against the 164 indicated in the protocol), noting that he was at the precinct from the moment the ballot box was sealed until the end of the day.
The Ministry of Information considered the information about the time spent by the observer at the polling station does not correspond to reality, since, according to the department, the observer was not at the polling station for the entire period of operation of the polling station and “could not reliably and in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Belarus have information on the number of those who voted early at this plot “.
Yakubovsky himself emphasized that he came to the site at half past nine, but the observers were asked to leave the premises at 10 o’clock. They had to conduct surveillance from the street through an open door, at a distance of about 20 meters from the entrance to the site.
According to the law on mass media, the publication of mass media can be suspended for up to three months by the decision of the republican government body, if the publication does not eliminate the violations that served as the basis for issuing a written warning, or does not report this to the Ministry of Information. The due date specified in the warning is August 8.