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RFE Journalist Detained In Minsk Protest Crackdown

RFE/RL video journalist Aleh Hruzdzilovich in July 2010. (RFE/RL).
RFE/RL video journalist Aleh Hruzdzilovich in July 2010. (RFE/RL).

(Minsk, Belarus) Aleh Hruzdzilovich, video journalist for RFE’s Belarus Service, Radio Svaboda, was detained by police in Minsk for three hours while covering a “silent protest” organized through social networks. Hruzdzilovich was at the demonstration in October Square, which had been cordoned off by metal barriers, when he was knocked down, kicked and dragged by riot police and put into a waiting police van.

Hruzdzilovich, a longtime RFE correspondent in Minsk who received an award in 2009 for “Best Journalist” from the Human Rights Alliance, had access to a cell phone during his detainment. Included is a portion of what he was able to report while in custody.

“I am still in the police van. Riot cops continue to bring other detained protesters into the van, brutally hitting some on their arms and legs, throwing them on the floor, cursing as they do so… No one paid any attention to the fact that I’m a journalist. I was one of the first to be detained. The commanding officer himself tore away my camera, broke my microphone, and then ordered to other cops to take me in. When I resisted, four cops took me by my arms and legs and dragged me away into the van. I kept screaming ‘I’m a journalist, help!’ — but that had no effect on them.

I spent a lot of time lying on the floor of this van, under the heels of the cops. There’s a Belapan reporter here and four others. Two of them were treated very brutally as they were brought into the van. I think cops were given orders to detain protesters very brutally in order to intimidate them. They first targeted those that were trying to film what was going on. I’m now being told to get off the line…” (phone disconnected)

It was the fourth consecutive Wednesday that protests were organized via the Internet. There were similar protests today in more than 30 cities throughout Belarus.