Belarus: Lukashenko seeks help from Russia, blames foreign interference | DW News
Experts on the reasons for increasing pressure on journalists in two neighboring countries
Against the background of protests in Belarus that have not diminished for more than three months, local authorities are tightening repressions against media workers covering peaceful actions of civil disobedience.
Journalists are beaten, unlawfully stripped of their accreditations, expelled from the country and imprisoned for doing their professional duty.
The number of accused among the press has increased recently. According to the Belarusian Service of Radio Liberty, 24 journalists remained behind bars by Monday. Many of them were subjected to administrative arrest, and the whereabouts of some remain unknown..
According to the Belarusian human rights center Viasna, over 1100 people were detained in Belarus last Sunday.
Dmitry Bolkunets: “Today the media have become one of the most dangerous tools for the Belarusian authorities”
Belarusian political scientist Dmitry Bolkunets in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America noted that the independent and foreign press still remains in the area of special attention of the Lukashenka regime. And this, in his opinion, is easy to explain..
“The media today have become one of the most dangerous tools for the Belarusian authorities,” the political scientist added. “Therefore, the command comes from above to remove journalists, including foreign ones, from the places of the actions, so that they do not spread objective information around the world”.
So as soon as any journalist comes to a protest action with a movie camera, law enforcement forces open a hunt for him, Dmitry Bolkunets stated..
At the same time, the political scientist said that certain hopes for a change in the situation in the Belarusian society are associated with the coming to power of Joe Biden. “Of course, the US position on Belarus will be determined not earlier than next spring, when a new administration is formed,” he said. – I think that Washington will put pressure on Lukashenka and impose sanctions. And I do not exclude that it will be tough economic sanctions against a number of enterprises and persons close to Lukashenka, to the extent that personal accounts of people from Lukashenka’s entourage will be arrested ”.
The United States has the necessary tools for this, summed up Dmitry Bolkunets.
In turn, Russia did not go far from the “fraternal” republic. So, according to OVD-Info, in Khabarovsk, where civil protests have not died out for a long time, in relation to journalists covering the actions, they began to use “carousels”. This is when a person is arrested, fined, and then, not being allowed to be released, again placed in custody, but under a different article. This was done, in particular, with Dmitry Khetagurov, Ekaterina Biyak, Boris Zhirnov and others..
However, representatives of the media in Russia can get under the rink anywhere. Journalist Dmitry Ivanov received eight days of arrest for a solo picket in front of the State Duma, his press card and editorial assignment were seized, reports OVD-Info.
Vyacheslav Bakhmin: “The authorities are demonstratively showing that they do not intend to stop at anything”
Vyacheslav Bakhmin, co-chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group, founder of the Sakharov Center, finds a tough approach to journalists in two neighboring countries united in the Union State not accidental. In his opinion, this is due to the fact that it is through the press that the world learns about the arbitrariness carried out there by the power structures..
“Therefore, of course, the main hatred of the regime is directed precisely at these suppliers of information that is extremely unpleasant for officials,” said an interlocutor of the Russian service of the Voice of America. “So they are being“ pressed ”in all ways, trampling on freedom of speech. The task of the regime is to ensure that journalists are afraid to travel to Belarus to cover the events taking place there. Thus, the authorities demonstratively show that they do not intend to stop at anything “
Alas, such lawlessness is no longer surprising, the human rights activist emphasizes. As he sees it, this is a natural product of the development of Lukashenka’s repressive policy..
“In addition, these regimes learn from each other, they also have a kind of exchange of ‘best’ practices,” he believes. – I don’t know if they have their own seminars and master classes … But in principle they perfectly understand each other, borrow methods, share their experience. Lukashenko learned a lot from Putin. And now, since the main practice of combating dissent takes place on the territory of Belarus, then, probably, the Russian security forces are also learning something from their Belarusian partners. It is quite indicative that the persecution of the press in Khabarovsk took place in parallel with the repression of journalists in the neighboring country “.
Unfortunately, this proves once again how close the two regimes are, concluded the co-chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group..