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Court Fines RFE/RL Reporter Who Was Covering Belarus Protest

Correspondent Halina Abakunchyk (left) of RFE/RL's Belarus Service
Correspondent Halina Abakunchyk (left) of RFE/RL's Belarus Service

VORSHA, Belarus -- A correspondent for RFE/RL's Belarus Service, Halina Abakunchyk, has been fined by a court that found her guilty of taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration.

The court in the eastern Belarusian city of Vorsha on March 13 fined Abakunchyk about $300.

Abakunchyk pleaded not guilty and insisted she was arrested on March 12 while reporting on a demonstration march against taxing the unemployed.

Abakunchyk said police forcibly detained her without letting her show her press card, holding her several hours at a police station even after she told them she was working a journalist.

Several journalists were detained along with activists and opposition leaders in Vorsha on March 12 during the protest against what Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka describes as a tax on "social parasites."

Protesters want the tax law scrapped and have continued demonstrations despite a March 9 order from Lukashenka that suspended implementation of the tax until 2018.