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16 Jul, 2021 14:27

Belarus raids homes of journalists & arrests three on same day as students jailed for 'violating public order' during protests

Belarus raids homes of journalists & arrests three on same day as students jailed for 'violating public order' during protests

Belarusian law enforcement searched the homes of more than a dozen journalists from foreign-funded media outlets on Friday, detaining three, in the third consecutive day of raids against opposition-leaning activists and lawyers.

The authorities entered the homes of journalists from the Polish outlet Belsat TV, as well as US state-run Radio Liberty (registered in Russia as a foreign agent). Both outlets report extensively on the politics of Belarus.

The raids led to the arrests of RFE/RL employee Oleg Gruzdilovich, former RFE/RL journalist Inna Studinskaya, and current Belsat reporter Anna Galeta.

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The arrests come on the third day of raids against human rights defenders, media workers, and NGOs. In the last two days, numerous offices have been raided, most prominently the headquarters of human rights center Viasna.

Also on Friday, a court in Minsk sentenced ten university students to time behind bars after being arrested during protests against Belarus’ long-time leader President Alexander Lukashenko. A total of ten students were sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail, with an 11th – the only one who pleaded guilty – getting two years.

The students, arrested in November 2020, were accused of “actions that grossly violate public order” and disrupting the work of public transport.

As well as the students, one member of staff from the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics was also jailed, alongside an assistant to Belarusian opposition figure Alana Gebremariam.

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A day earlier, the EU condemned searches of journalists and human rights defenders in Belarus and threatened to implement another batch of sanctions against the government.

“On Wednesday, the Belarusian regime carried out a further wide-scale attack on independent voices in the country,” a statement from EU High Representative Josep Borrell said. “This new wave of repression is yet another proof that the Lukashenko regime is waging a systematic and well-orchestrated campaign with the ultimate aim to silence all remaining dissident voices and suppress civic space in Belarus.”

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