Paul Dabravolski, a reporter working for the Belarusian news website TUT.BY, was arrested and fined with 9.450.000 Belarusian rubles (420 EUR) for filming police beating two protesters during a court hearing on a graffiti case on 25 January. The International and European Federation of Journalists, (IFJ) and (EFJ), have backed their affiliate the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) in condemning the arrest and have urged the authorities to withdraw all charges against Dabravolski.
Dabravolski, who is a member of the BAJ, was arrested while he was covering a hearing where two supporters were protesting in the court with a banner saying “stop political prosecution”. In a video recording the hearing, the police pushed the protesters outside the courtroom while they were shouting “art is not a crime”. Journalists present in the court room followed the police and filmed the process.
Dabravolski was among the journalists filming the police beating the protesters. He was arrested together with the two protesters, taken to the police station and charged with “contempt of court” (Article 24.1 of Belarus Code on Administrative Offenses) and “disobeying the officials’ legal demands” (Article 23.4 of Belarus Code on administrative Offenses).
The IFJ and EFJ reminded that the journalist was simply doing his job and reporting the abuses of the authorities, which is not a crime. Both Federations urged the authorities to immediately drop all the charges against him.
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The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries