DW correspondent arrested in Belarus | Press | DW | 06.08.2020
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DW correspondent arrested in Belarus

Ahead of the presidential elections in Belarus, the country's authorities have increased pressure on journalists in what is widely seen as an effort to suppress independent voices.

DW journalist Alexander Burakov

DW journalist Alexander Burakov

DW journalist Alexander Burakov ended up in a temporary detention cell after being arrested twice by the police in his hometown Mogilyov, some 200 kilometers east of the Belarusian capital, Minsk. 

Burakov, who writes for DW's Russian-language service, was stopped by police on Wednesday evening on suspicions of "transporting counterfeit alcohol.” After the officers inspected Burakov's car without finding anything, they suggested that the vehicle – which he has owned since 2013 - had been stolen and the car's identification number might have been faked. The journalist was then taken to the local police station.  

A few hours later Burakov was released just to be seized again a few steps away from the police station. The circumstances of the second arrest remain unclear. The head of the local branch of the Belarusian Association of Jounalists in Mogilyov, Boris Vyrvich, told DW that according to witnesses, Burakov had argued with an unidentified woman in front of the police station and shouted out: "It's a provocation." After that he was seized by the police. Numerous efforts by DW to contact Burakov today have been in vain.  

Second arrest of Burakov this year

DW condemns the arrest of Alexander Burakov and has called on the Belarusian authorities to ensure the freedom of press in the country. "The intimidation efforts against our correspondent demonstrate in all clarity the difficult situation for journalists in Belarus," DW Editor-in-chief Manuela Kasper-Claridge said in a statement. "Journalists are being prosecuted and even arrested. This is not acceptable and is to be condemned in the strongest terms. I appeal to the officials in Belarus to let journalists do their work unhindered," she added. 

This is the second arrest of Burakov this year. He was seized on May 8 and sentenced to ten days in a temporary detention facility.  

Weißrussland Minsk | Präsident Alexander Lukaschenko hält eine Rede

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko

The Belarusian Association of Journalists has counted over 100 cases of prosecution of journalists across the country since January, with the majority occurring after the start of the presidential campaign, the head of the association, Andrei Bastunets, said today. The crackdown was widely expected, he added, since the authorities obviously want to prevent independent observers and journalists from doing their work. 

Over 40 journalists arrested

DW's Burakov was expecting to be put in detention as he told DW a few days before his arrest. He said he was wary of possible efforts by the Belarussian authorities to prevent independent journalists from covering the elections. 

Media watchdog “Reporters without borders” (ROG) called on authorities in Belarus to ensure independent coverage of the presidential elections and to address the issue of prosecution of journalists. According to ROG figures, over 40 journalists have been arrested since the start of the presidential campaign. They were mostly reporting about the demonstrations to support alternative presidential candidates, the organization said in a statement. Foreign journalists were also hindered to work freely "at the order of president Alexander Lukashenko," the statement said. 

EINSCHRÄNKUNG DW Personenfoto | Corporate Communications | Carla Hagemann

Carla Hagemann

Corporate Spokesperson and Head of Corporate Communications


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