Before the important presidential election in Belarus, a journalist for Deutsche Welle was sentenced to ten days in prison in the ex-Soviet republic on Friday.
The foreign broadcaster told the federal government that he had been convicted of alleged “hooliganism”. This can only be interpreted as a “flimsy pretext” to prevent critical reporting in the run-up to the election on Sunday, wrote DW director Peter Limbourg in a protest letter to the Belarusian ambassador in Berlin on Friday. DW has no contact with the journalist.
The journalist Alexander Burakov was arrested by the police in the small town of Mogilev. He was stopped for allegedly transporting adulterated alcohol. Then it was alleged that the vehicle was stolen. Shortly thereafter, there was an incident with a woman on the street. The exact circumstances were not initially clear. Burakov was then arrested.
On Sunday, head of state Alexander Lukashenko wants to be confirmed for a sixth term. In the run-up to the election, according to the human rights organization Wesna, hundreds of people were arrested and some were sentenced to prison terms.
Also on Friday, two young men were sentenced to ten days in prison for playing the song “Peremen” (changes) on the sidelines of an event in Minsk. The song by the rock band Kino from the 1980s is very well known in the ex-Soviet republics and is often sung during protests. Videos showed officials trying to pull the plugs out of the speakers. However, the two young men refused to turn off the song.
They are said to have disrupted public order, it was said.
- Prison-Punishment-Detention Crimes: © alphaspirit – Fotolia.com