Minsk, 8 July. Belarus’ authorities on Thursday blocked access to Naša Niva’s website and made arrests and conducted raids in what appeared to be a crackdown on the popular independent online publication.
18:00. Jahor Marcinovič, editor in chief of the popular online publication Naša Niva, has been placed in custody for 72 hours.
According to Naša Niva, Mr. Marcinovič is a suspect in criminal proceedings under Part One of the Criminal Code’s Article 342, which penalizes “organizing or taking an active part in group actions grossly disturbing public order.”
He has reportedly been placed in the detention center on Akreścina Street in Minsk.
15:50. Jahor Marcinovič, editor in chief of the Naša Niva online publication, was seen being led away by two plainclothesmen after a search at his apartment in Minsk on Thursday.
In a video posted on Euroradio’s Telegram channel, Mr. Marcinovič appeared to have his hands cuffed behind his back as he was being escorted by the men from his apartment building to a vehicle.
Naša Niva reported on its Telegram channel that its editor Andrej Skurko had been taken by law enforcement officers for questioning after a search at his home.
Mr. Marcinovič was arrested as he was walking his dog on Thursday morning. He was later brought to his apartment by masked officers. “A search is underway at the apartment. Family members have been kicked out of the apartment,” said the publication, adding that it was still unclear in the framework of what case the raid was being conducted.
According to Naša Niva, officers of the interior ministry’s central office searched the office of the publication’s accounting department, seizing documents. Afterward, a search was conducted at the home of the organization’s chief accountant, Voĺha Rakovič.
The home of Deputy Editor in Chief Andrej Dyńko was also reportedly raided.
The website of Naša Niva, nn.by, was blocked by the information ministry at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office on Thursday morning.
Naša Niva said that some members of its team were staying abroad.
Spokespersons for the interior ministry and the Committee for State Security could not be reached for comment on Thursday afternoon. A representative of the State Control Committee told BelaPAN that he had no information about any possible inquiry against Naša Niva.
Naša Niva Editor in Chief Jahor Marcinovič was reported arrested on Thursday morning. In addition, the publication reported on social media that its journalists could not get in touch with a number of other staff and that a search was being conducted at the home of its editor, Andrej Skurko.
Police vehicles were seen outside the building in Minsk where Naša Niva’s office is located.
Voĺha Čamadanava, spokesperson for the interior ministry, could not be reached for comment on Thursday morning.
The information ministry said on July 8 that the publication’s website, nn.by, had been blocked at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office in connection with the distribution of content banned under the Media Law