Authorities have said more than 6,000 people have been detained since the August 9 presidential election. The Belarusian Association of Journalists, which maintains a database of detained journalists, has said that security forces had deliberately used violence against the media, intentionally damaged their equipment, and detained at least 12 journalists covering the unrest. Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich has condemned the violence in Belarus and said that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka should step down from power to prevent a bloody civil war.
Internet access remained severely restricted in Belarus at least until early on August 12, as mass demonstrations gripped the country following the August 9 presidential election. Despite the chokehold on information, the cloud-based instant-messaging service Telegram has largely continued to function and has become an invaluable tool for an amorphous opposition and angry citizens seeking information and coordination.
In an interview with RFE/RL on August 12, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to a question about recent Russian media restrictions targeting the media outlet, saying the United States will continue to press for “the right for the people of Russia and the people of the world to have access to information that is true and real and timely.”
RFE/RL Belarus Service contributor Vitali Tsygankov and his wife Olga Tsygankova were detained on August 12 after a traffic police officer stopped their car in Minsk. Both were reportedly beaten after they refused to get out of the car, and an officer reportedly put a gun to Tsygankova’s head. (Russian Service)
Russian state-owned channel 1 presenter Olga Skabeyeva used her weekly show, 60 minutes, to praise what she called the working tactics of Belarus’s security services. She credited Belarus’s OMON forces for stopping the protests “in almost three days,” contrasting them with counterparts in Kyiv -- where she said the 2014 Maidan protests continue. (in Russian, Current Time TV)
Andrei Pyzh, a Russian YouTuber who filmed industrial sites and abandoned facilities, was arrested on August 12 on charges of illegally obtaining and disseminating state secrets. Pyzh, whose YouTube channel has nearly 800,000 followers, could face up to eight years in jail if found guilty.
The Kyiv appeals court has ruled that Yulia Kuzmenko, a suspect in the high-profile 2016 killing of journalist Pavel Sheremet, may be transferred from a detention center to house arrest. Last month, the same court eased pretrial restrictions for suspect Yana Duhar.
A man who was filmed assaulting an RFE/RL correspondent at a rally for Bulgaria’s ruling GERB party in Sofia has been charged with hooliganism and detained after admitting to being a paid provocateur.
Former Armenian Police Chief Vladimir Gasparian on August 8 drove his vehicle in the direction of two RFE/RL reporters, almost running over them, after seeing that they were filming near his house for a report about government plans to dismantle private houses illegally constructed near Lake Sevan. RFE/RL has demanded he be held accountable for endangering the journalists’ lives. A criminal investigation is underway.
Human Rights Watch has urged Kyrgyz authorities not to extradite detained Uzbek journalist Bobomurod Abdullaev to Uzbekistan after he was arrested in Bishkek at Tashkent's request, and called for his release.
The makers of the new Kyrgyz movie Motherland say they were denied a distribution license after a film commission objected to scenes showing corrupt government officials.