A German journalist covering the Belarusian presidential election for Deutsche Wellea was arrested by police on Wednesday, according to the media’s website.
German freelance journalist Alexander Burakov, who works for the public information group Deutsche Welle, was arrested by Belarusian police on Wednesday (August 5) in the city of Mogilyov, 200 kilometers from the capital, Minsk, reported on Friday. 7 August German media site.
The reporter who covered the Belarusian presidential election is officially suspected by the police of “transporting smooth alcohol”, he told the Belarusian human rights organization Viasna. Alexander Burakov was taken to the police station in the evening even though he had not found anything when he inspected his car. According to Deutsche Welle, the police believed that the reporter’s vehicle had been stolen and that his registration number could have been forged.
“An attempt to stifle independent voices”
A few hours later, the journalist was released, before he was arrested again … A few steps from the police station. Boris Vyrvich, head of the local section of the Belarusian Journalists’ Association in Mogilyov, told the German television station that according to witnesses, Alexander Burakov had quarreled with an unidentified woman outside the police station and shouted, “This is a provocation,” before being questioned again. .
According to the German media group, which has itannounced in an article published on Friday afternoon, his journalist is sentenced to ten days in prison, while the presidential election takes place on Sunday.
Deutsche Welle condemned the journalist’s arrest and called on the authorities to guarantee freedom of the press in Belarus. “The intimidation efforts against our correspondent are a perfect illustration of the journalists’ difficult situation,” Manuela Kasper-Claridge, the group’s editor, said in a statement on Thursday.
“Four days before the presidential election in Belarus, the country’s authorities have increased the pressure on journalists in what is widely seen as an attempt to suppress independent votes,” the statement said. “This is not acceptable and must be condemned on the strongest terms. I urge Belarusian officials to allow journalists to do their job without hindrance,” the editor added.
In a letter to the Belarusian ambassador in Berlin, the director general of the German group has expressed his “concern” after the journalist’s arrest. “I want to protest with the utmost virulence on behalf of Deutsche Wells against this clearly arbitrary measure. It violates radical internationally recognized freedom of the press,” he wrote, urging the Belarussian government to “investigate” this issue as soon as possible.
On World press freedom ranking, published by NGO Reporters Without Borders, Belarus ranks 153rd out of 180.
Worried about the authorities’ actions
Alexander Burakov had already been arrested on May 8, 2020 and sentenced to ten days in custody for preliminary investigation. The German public media tried unsuccessfully to contact the reporter several times.
The arrest did not come as a surprise to the journalist. A few days before his arrest, the journalist told Deutsche Welle that he was concerned about government action to obstruct the work of independent journalists, especially with regard to the journalist. Belarus’s presidential election.