16 January 2021, Saturday, 9:28
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Andrei Bastunets: “Dispersal of opposition action in Belarus showed cost of Interior Ministry’s words”

The deputy head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) commented on unlawful actions by the riot militia hindering work of journalist at an opposition demonstration on February 8.

On February 8, unknown people in mufti were hindering work of journalists during the action of solidarity with political prisoners Mikalai Autukhovich and Uladzimir Asipenka on October square in Minsk. Every journalist was accompanied by two men in mufti, who closed cameras with hands, didn’t react to lawful requests to introduce themselves and show IDs.

“These actions by the people in mufti discredit the interior minister,” BAJ deputy head Andrei Bastunets told the website charter97.org. “Kulyashou said at a press conference last week he didn’t follow the events. He said they were provocateurs who try to defame militia.”

It was the third time when riot militia had blocked work of journalists during opposition demonstrations. The Interior Ministry doesn’t comment on unlawful actions of people in mufti and denies they had any relations to the law-enforcement bodies.

Last week, journalists complained to interior minister of Belarus Anatoly Kulyashou about rude actions of militiamen during mass opposition demonstrations. Kulyashou said in reply: “I do not anything about this.”

The interior minister offered journalists to inform him about such cases and send him photos of the militia officers who do this. Besides, Kulyashou didn’t exclude it was a provocation of journalists or participants of the actions.

According to Andrei Bastunets, the Belarusian Association of Journalist still hasn’t got a reply of the Interior Ministry to their request to investigate facts of violation of journalists’ rights at opposition demonstrations at October square on September 9 and 16, and October 16, 2009.

“We are still waiting for a reply from the Interior Ministry. Kulyashou promised he would read the letter and look at the photos attached to the letter depicting the people who had hindered work of journalists during demonstrations. We will apply to the law-enforcement bodies again, but I repeat, the today’s events showed the cost of Kulyashou’s words,” the expert noted.