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27 Aug, 2020 18:43

Dozens of journalists covering latest protests rounded up in Minsk for 'document check' – Russian embassy investigating

Dozens of journalists covering latest protests rounded up in Minsk for 'document check' – Russian embassy investigating

Belarusian authorities have apprehended over 60 journalists who were planning to cover a major protest in Minsk on Thursday evening. They include members of the Russian, American and British press corps in the capital of Belarus.

Photographer Sergey Bobylev of Moscow news agency TASS was among those held. He said he was stopped on the Svobody Square in central Minsk, before an opposition rally. Opponents of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko have disputed the outcome of this month's controversial presidential elections, in which he was officially re-elected with 80 percent of the vote.

Bobylev, who is officially accredited in Belarus, contacted TASS and disclosed that the police put him on a bus along with other  journalists, including representatives of Reuters, Associated Press and US state-run RFE/RL.

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He added that he has been apprehended under the pretext of a "papers check." The journalists had been preparing to cover a planned procession from Svobody (Freedom) Square to Nezavisimosti (Independence) Square, where the Government Building is located.

A spokesperson for the Belarusian Interior Ministry said police did not detain the media personnel, but instead brought them to a district directorate of internal affairs to have their documents checked.

"Today, journalists were taken (not detained) to the Oktyabrskoye District Directorate of Internal Affairs in Minsk to check the documents confirming legitimacy of their professional activity," Olga Chemodanov said. "The journalists of the registered media outlets as well as the foreign journalists accredited at the Foreign Ministry will be released."

Meanwhile, the Russian Embassy in Belarus said it was investigating reports of Russian journalists being held. "The embassy in Minsk checks this information," a source in the mission told TASS.

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