Committee to Protect Journalists: Belarusian authorities should immediately release journalist Siarhei Satsuk
Belarusian journalist Siarhei Satsuk detained on bribery charges after publishing COVID-19 report. Belarusian authorities should immediately release journalist Siarhei Satsuk and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Siarhei Satsuk is a member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ). The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ/IFJ) joined its affiliate BAJ in calling for Satsuk immediate release and for the drop of all charges against him.
March 25 Siarhei Satsuk a journalist and a chief editor of the «Ezhednevnik» web publishing house was detained in Minsk by members of the Financial Investigation of the State Monitoring Committee. On March 26 members of the mentioned state body seized the documents from the «Ezhednevnik» editorial office.
Siarhei Satsuk, chief editor of the online publication EJ.BY, was arrested on March 25 by officers of the Department of Financial Investigations.
A few months ago, EJ.BY chief editor, Siarhei Satsuk faced pressure from the high and the mighty and left a text with Euroradio he asked to publish in case of his arrest. He describes the reasons for his possible arrest and the threats he had received from the "messenger" — a representative of a businessman from the health care industry. On March 25, 2020, Satsuk was arrested by officers of the Financial Investigation Department of the State Control Committee of Belarus. Allegedly, he is suspected of taking a bribe.
The general situation in the Belarusian mass media field was controversial in 2019. On the one hand, it was influenced by the overwhelming trend of reinforcing governmental control over the media space. On the other hand, due to hosting the 2nd European Games, the official authorities were pushed towards greater openness of the country. The complicated foreign policy and economic situation in Belarus, including negotiation processes with the European Union and the United States, the increasing size of external debt and pressure on the part of Russia as well as the elections to the Belarusian parliament, held on November 17, 2019, had their impact on the situation in the media field, too.
As the media coverage of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak dominates the media all over the world, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has urged the media to report responsibly and avoid creating any unjustified panic that could worsen the situation.
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