Moscow says it expects Belarus to respect rights of detained Komsomolskaya Pravda journalist

04.10.2021 Source: By BelaPAN

The Russian foreign ministry expects that the rights of a Komsomolskaya Pravda journalist who is currently detained in Belarus will be respected, Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the ministry, told reporters in Moscow on Saturday.  

According to Ms. Zakharova, the Russian embassy in Minsk is in constant contact with the Belarusian authorities to discuss issues regarding the operation of the Belarus version of the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.  

“In reply to numerous questions about the arrest of an employee of the Belarus version of Komsomolskaya Pravda, I would like to say that we are talking about the Belarusian media outlet and citizens of Belarus. At the same time, the newspaper operates as a subsidiary of a Russian publication. So we proceed from the assumption that the rights of journalists will be observed in accordance with generally accepted international standards,” Ms. Zakharova said.

On October 2, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that its journalist Hienadź Mažejka had been arrested and placed in the detention center on Akrescina Street in Minsk.

Mr. Mažejka is the author of an interview with a former classmate of Andrej Zieĺcer, a Minsk man who was killed by officers of the Committee for State Security (KGB) during a raid on his apartment on September 28.

Mr. Zieĺcer, a 31-year-old IT worker, is believed to have fatally wounded a KGB officer before being shot dead inside his apartment.

In the interview, which was posted on the night of September 28, a woman who went to school together with Mr. Zieĺcer described him as a good person who “always stood up for truth.”

On the morning of September 29, the website of the Belarus version of Komsomolskaya Pravda stopped being accessible to users by order of the Belarusian information ministry.

Commenting on the move, Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that the Kremlin disagreed with it and considered it to be a violation of the principle of media freedom.

On October 1, a search was conducted at Mr. Mažejka’s home.

According to the journalist’s mother, it was conducted by KGB officers and lasted for about two and a half hours.

The search warrant listed two Criminal Code articles. In particular, Article 130, which penalizes incitement to racial, ethnic, religious or other social hatred, and Article 369, which penalizes insults directed at an official. 

Memory sticks, stickers and badges were seized as a result of the search. 

Mr. Mažejka himself was not at home during the search.

His mother said that he had last spoken to her from a hotel in Moscow on September 30.