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“Couldn’t you think of a better story?” Euroradio's Raman Pratasevich released

Raman Pratasevich. Photo: Novy Chas

The official reason for his detention was a criminal case involving the beating of a bus driver at the end of September (Article 339 (1) ‘Hooliganism’ in the Criminal Code). Pratasevich said he had to enter several rooms when at the police department. The signal of his mobile phone was registered in the area where the driver was beaten, investigators said. The journalist was asked a few questions about the way he had beaten the driver while being drunk. Policemen also got interested in Pratasevich’s phone: they looked through the data on the phone and made a few screenshots.

Pratasevich has only received a paper proving that he was in the Police District Department between 7:20 a.m. and 9:35 a.m. on November 5.

Investigators arrived at Raman Pratasevich’s flat at about 7 a.m., Euroradio reported. His parents witnessed the detention. “Couldn’t you think of a better story?” the journalist’s parents heard one of the policemen say.

"Somebody rang the bell at about 7.20 a.m. We were about to leave. Roma was waking up. My husband opened the door and they said that they were fir the police,” Raman Pratasevich’s mother told Euroradio. “We asked them for the reason of their visit. ‘You will got to know it later,’ they replied. Why? We are his parents and we have the right to know! The reason was far-fetched. They said that Roma had made an uproar on a bus. I asked Roma: “Is it true? This is not your usual behavior.’ He replied: “Can you imagine me doing things like that? I would have never done it.’ Then we started packing and my husband heard them [investigators] say: “Couldn’t you invent a better story?’ It means that Raman has been detained for his political views. I do not know.”

Raman Pratasevich has been an accredited Euroradio reporter since September 1, 2018. His term of accreditation expired on October 31. Minsk Euroradio’s office applied for the extension of his accreditation in the middle of October.

Euroradio considers the legal proceedings started against its reporter to be part of the pressure campaign directed against independent mass media. The flats of journalists working for TUT.BY, the information agency BelaPAN and other mass media where searched on August 7-9. 8 journalists and editors including the editors-in-chief of TUT.BY and BelaPAN were detained. They were charged with unauthorized access of the paid new feed of the state information agency BelTA.