The Russian Union of Journalists has issued a statement demanding the release of Hienadź Mažejka, a reporter for the Belarus version of the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.
The Union insists that the public must be immediately informed where and how Mr. Mažejka was arrested.
“His colleagues and loved ones must be able to make sure that nothing threatens the journalist's life and health, and Mažejka’s lawyers must get appropriate explanations in connection with his arrest,” the Union says.
It notes that Mr. Mažejka’s arrest and detention, accompanied by “the total silence of the responsible law enforcement agencies,” cannot be seen as anything other than “pressure on the press and a threat to the journalist.”
On October 2, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that Mr. 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 block, 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.
Speaking to reporters on October 2, Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry, said that the Russian embassy in Minsk was in constant contact with the Belarusian authorities to discuss issues regarding the operation of the Belarus version of Komsomolskaya Pravda.
“Answering the 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.
Komsomolskaya Pravda was expected to send its special representative to Minsk following Mr. Mažejka’s arrest.
The newspaper’s editor in chief, Vladimir Sungorkin, described the situation regarding its Belarus version as arbitrariness.