February 4 was to mark the release date of cameraman Pavel Padabed from 15-day administrative detention. However, the Belarusian Association of Journalists found out that he was transferred to Minsk pre-trial detention center and a criminal case was brought against him instead.
Pavel Padabed was kept in Minsk Region temporary detention facility (TDC) for sharing “extremist materials”.
The day before his scheduled release, he was transferred to Minsk TDC for interrogation.
It seems like the investigators decided to reclassify the case as a criminal one. The nature of the accusations is not known yet, but everything suggests that the detention is related to his former professional activities.
This is not Pavel’s first encounter with the law enforcement system. After the 2010 presidential election and the ensuing public protests, the journalist was repeatedly arrested, including for covering a “silent march” in 2011 as part of the “Revolution Through Social Media” protest or during performances organized by the Tell the Truth campaign activists during early voting in the parliamentary elections.
In the fall of 2020, when Belarus was gripped by mass protests against stolen election results and the subsequent use of violence by the police, Pavel Padabed was also arrested for his journalistic work. The detention did not result in further persecution, though.
But the situation is radically different now – many people who documented the dramatic events of 2020 have been put behind bars. The relevant examples include videographers Aliaksandr Lubianchuk sentenced to three years of imprisonment for “participation in an extremist formation” and Ivan Murauyou who received a two-and-a-half-year sentence on a similar charge.