International human rights organization Reporters without Borders condemned the actions of the Belarusian authorities against a number of journalists and independent media. "Being in panic, government of President Alexander Lukashenko has succeeded in making every effort to stifle criticism," the organization in its statement.
In particular, human rights activists mentioned the detention of journalists Vladimir Laptsevich, Alexander Lashmankin and Ales Osiptsov on March 24-25, arrests and criminal charges against Andrei Pochobut, closing of Avtoradio and warning to «Narodnaya Volia.» «Independent journalists in the country are today in need of support from their foreign counterparts more than ever,» the Reporters without Borders.
As Telegraf previously reported, citizen of Russia, Alexander Lashmankin, who is editor in chief of the Samara Information Agency «Svoboda,» was taken off the train Chelyabinsk-Brest by the staff of the Belarusian Interior Ministry at the first stop after the border in Orsha on the night of March 23 to 24. The journalist was taken to a local court on charges of disorderly conduct, in which he was convicted and sentenced to inprisonment for three days.
Journalist Ales Osiptsov was detained near the house in Mahiliou at 13:45 on March 24. The arrest report implied that patrol employees had detained a journalist for «easing nature in a public place.» The court of Leninski district of Mahiliou sentenced the man for three days of administrative arrest on the same day.
March 25, another journalist — Vladimir Laptsevich, who planned to lay flowers to the local lore museum, dedicated to the Independence Day of the Belarusian People’s Republic, was arrested in Mahiliou. After detention Vladimir Laptsevich was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting police officers. He was sentenced to seven days of administrative arrest on March 28.
Belarusian correspondent of the influential Polish «Gazeta Wyborcza» Andrei Pochobut was informed about initiating criminal proceedings against him in Hrodna on March 28. The KGB investigation of Hrodno voblast accused a journalist of insulting the president. The criminal case against Andrei Pochobut was instituted for publishing articles in newspapers and online.
March 28, Judge of the Supreme Economic Court of Belarus Ekaterina Korotkevich decided not to meet the claim of the newspaper «Narodnaya Volia» to the Ministry of Information. Independent newspaper asked to invalidate a warning of the Ministry of Information, issued by the media on January 14. The newspaper is going to appeal the decision of the Supreme Economic Court in the cassation instance.
March 29, Judge of the Supreme Economic Court of Belarus, Dmitri Alexandrov, did not satisfy the complaint of Autoradio to the Republican Commission on Television and Radio. Avtoradio board asked the court to cancel the commission’s decision to terminate radio station, but the court upheld it.