Belarus minister praises police’s work during elections. Who to blame for beating Belsat cameraman?

Belarusian Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich has extended thanks to his subordinates for ‘hard work’ during last week’s elections to local councils of deputies.

According to the top official, the elections were an ‘addition serious test for police officers and military personnel’.

Despite the ‘considerable physical and psychological stress’, the police showed a high level of professionalism, endurance and political maturity, Shunevich believes.

Belsat journalists and independent observers uncovered massive violations of the electoral code during the Sunday elections. Belsat TV cameraman Andrus Kozel was severely beaten by the police at a polling station in Minsk. Our colleague, an observer at the elections to local councils of deputies, was livestreaming the process of voting on his Facebook. According to the police, as Andrus Kozel ‘ignored their demands, offered resistance to a police officer, grabbed the officer by his uniform’, they decided to use force against him. Notably, the journalist said he had been punched in the head four times. The report also notes that he ‘damaged a glass door with his foot’.

On Monday, Kozel was tried for disobedience, but judge Ivan Kastsyan decided to send the case back to the police. The cameraman was released in court.

18,110 deputies were elected to the local councils of Belarus on February, 18. Early voting kicked off in Belarus on February, 13. There might have been many rigged votes from Tuesday till Saturday, observers warned.

“These elections, like many others, have been dominated by massive falsifications, suppression of the opposition representatives, unfair formation of election commissions, media manipulation, and attacks on the independent media,” the European People’s Party, the largest political formation in the EP, stressed in Tuesday’s statement.