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Interior: we started filing reports but realized they were journalists

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Street rally dedicated to the 19th anniversary of the 1996 referendum was held November 24th. It was peaceful and quiet: no one was detained, traditionally there were protocols drawn up on the organizers and a couple of activists - those with national symbols.

But suddenly the police drew protocols even on journalists. Moreover, the police copied their personal data from the press card not passports.

"When the rally ended, the police began to massively draw up reports including on human rights defenders, says the journalist of Radio Liberty Halina Abakunchyk.  We approached and asked these people for their names and phone numbers - so that later you can learn about their fate. I was then approached by a police officer and asked for my ID. I showed him the certificate, and he immediately began to ask questions: my middle name, date of birth, place of residence and so on. I asked: "Why do you need this information, and what are you writing?" He says, "I am drawing up a protocol." "Protocol for that?" - "For participation in an unsanctioned rally." I ask: "How am I involved?" - "You walked the street." The fact that I was in the street and doing my job did not satisfy him, and he was not convinced that this had nothing to do with participation."

As a witness, I was also "walking the street" and performing their professional duties in covering the event -- there were no national symbols in the hands of Halina Abakunchyk, she yelled no slogans and did not bother the police - she was just working. However, the report was drawn, and Halina was warned by the policeman from the Central district police department that "she will get summoned." Where and when it will happen the policeman did not say.

He then immediately redirected his attention to the journalist of "Narodnaya Volya" Katsiaryna Andreyeva, who was filming the protocol drawing on her phone.

The police began drawing the protocol on her as well, but then realized that the women were journalists and stopped. Eventually, though, the police officer  said that she would get a subpoena.

Head of the press service of Minsk police Aliaksandr Lastousky

A report was drawn on the journalist of the newspaper "Novy Chas" Dzmitry Halko. It is true, though, said Dzmitry, that he was at the rally not as a journalist but as a translator for an American reporter of Al Jazeera. But still he did not take part in the rally, he did not participate. He had no symbols, no lights or flowers.

Dzmitry Halko: "The journalist showed his professional ID - he is a correspondent of Al Jazeera Brendan Hoffman. Which he repeated almost 10 times to the policeman: "We are here to work, and you are disturbing us. This man is my translator. Here is my accreditation, my ID - explain what you are doing and why? "So he showed that I was working here. But it had no sense - the policeman did not react in any way."

What was it? With this question Euroradio turned to the head of the press service of Minsk police Aliaksandr Lastousky. It turns out that there were no records of protocols being drawn on journalists.

Aliaksandr Lastousky: "The staff said that the protocols were not drawn. They began to do it, but then realized that the people were journalists and stopped."

Actually it is pretty hard, drawing the protocol not on the passport, but using press card to be unaware that it is a journalist in front of you. However, journalists, who allegedly had no protocols drawn on them, urge to wait and see whether they will be subpoenaed.

Photo: Zmitser Lukashuk, http://www.svaboda.org/