22 April 2019, Monday, 16:07
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Belarusian Authorities Repress Independent Bloggers

ANDREI PAVUK

Human rights activists see a political motive in the persecution of bloggers.

Viasna Human rights activists are concerned about the situation around the blogger Andrei Pavuk, who was detained in the morning of March 20.

In addition, the HRC Viasna cannot but be disturbed by the recent events taking place with independent bloggers in different regions of Belarus, namely, by initiation of a whole series of criminal cases against them.

We remind that lately, the criminal cases have been initiated against Siarhei Piatrukhin, who is accused of defamation and insult a police officer, and against Aliaksandr Kabanau, who is accused of appropriating money that residents paid him for housekeeping.

“And now, Andrei Pavuk’s arrest and the search in his apartment, the initiation of a criminal case for a deliberately false report on the mining of the district executive committee in the town of Aktsiabrski.

This case resembles the case that was opened against Homel human rights activist Leanid Sudalenka, from whose e-mail porn clips were allegedly sent to the Inspectorate for Taxes and Levies and to the regional department of the Investigative Committee,” – Viasna lawyer Valiantsin Stsefanovich commented on the situation.

According to the human rights activist, this may indicate an intensification of the fight in the Internet sphere on the eve of the elections that will take place this year.

“Obviously there is a political motive in the persecution of Siarhei Piatrukhin, Aliaksandr Kabanau, and now, Andrei Pavuk. As all of them are engaged in social activities, making videos, they openly criticize the authorities, and now criminal cases have been initiated against all of them.

And it looks like a trend. We hope that these cases will not be brought to court, since we cannot talk about the presence of any criminal offenses,” – Valiantsin Stsefanovich said.

The human rights activist believes that the sphere of the Internet and the media is the area where the situation with human rights has deteriorated over the last year: an increase in cases of bringing independent journalists to administrative responsibility for cooperation with foreign media, making amendments to the Law On Mass Media, control over the Internet – everything is lined up. Now the authorities are actively bearing down on independent bloggers.

“We are very concerned about this and we will closely monitor the situation, and if anything crops up we will react in a certain way,” – Valiantsin Stsefanovich said.

Andrei Pavuk is a well-known Belarusian video blogger and a member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists. He criticizes local authorities on his network blog Rudabelskaya Pakazukha.