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RFE/RL Journalist Assaulted And Detained By Belarus Authorities

In the latest attack on a journalist in Belarus, police and security agents assaulted and interrogated RFE/RL correspondent Ina Studzinskaja while she was reporting on an opposition meeting outside of Minsk.

Studzinskaja, a free-lancer with RFE/RL's Belarusian Service, Radio Svaboda, was detained by police and security agents for three hours on May 31 while on assignment in Svetlahorsk to cover a meeting of opposition activists and local residents.

According to Studzinskaja, police Maj. Jauhen Valentsinovich Klepik grabbed and twisted her arm to prevent her from using her mobile phone to call in a live report for the service's afternoon broadcast. Studzinskaja was then taken to a local police station and interrogated, although no charges were brought against her. Upon her release, she reported the assault in a broadcast that evening.

Studzinskaja filed a complaint against Klepik for "rude behavior" and interference with her journalistic duties. Other agencies, including BelaPAN, Nasha Niva, and Charter 97, also reported on activists being manhandled by Klepik during detention.

"We condemn the brutal and continued harassment of our journalists in Belarus," said RFE/RL President Steven W. Korn. "This most recent incident displays the importance of media organizations to shine a light on these abuses and to defend the rights of journalists who are targeted by authorities for simply doing their jobs."

Radio Svaboda reporters are often harassed by Belarusian security agencies while covering events. Several correspondents were detained last summer while reporting on the “silent protests” that swept throughout the country. The service’s website was also hit with a cyber attack that for a short period affected its ability to distribute coverage of the protests.