‘We consider seizing computers as repressive measure’. Statement over raid on Belsat TV office

On April 9, it took employees of the Investigative Committee of Belarus several hours to conduct a rigorous search of the rooms that are used for the work of Belsat TV journalists and contributors in Minsk. As a result of the raid, all the computers and data storage devices have been seized on grounds of carrying out a probe into a criminal case under Art. 188-2 (‘libel’) launched by the Prosecutor’s Office of Minsk.

In July 2018, we made an unfortunate error when publishing a text about alleged corruption in the Health Ministry under the corresponding video story. Due to a technical error, the draft was published, not the final version of the text. We would like to point out that the video material did not contain any mistakes. We quickly set the record straight, published a refutation and offered our apologies to General Andrey Shved whom the mistake concerned. The Investigative Committee ran a check and found no grounds for criminal prosecution is not found. However, in January 2018, the Prosecutor’s Office launched a criminal case over the same situation.

We are convinced that the Belarusian authorities are jumping at the flimsy pretext to get tough with the independent media outlets and mop-up the information space in the run-up to the upcoming elections. In the shadow of the notorious BelTA case, we believe that now it is the turn of our channel. It should be noted that journalists who cooperate with Belsat TV are constantly paying hefty fines for working without accreditation that has never been granted to Belsat TV. Having recently filed another application for accreditation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are waiting for their response.

We consider seizing our computer equipment as a repressive measure; the case is clear: we conceded our mistake and apologized. We believe that the materials remaining in the computers seized will not give more information on the case to the investigators; in our opinion, their actions are aimed at throwing a monkey-wrench into the activity of Belsat TV.

Irrespective of persecution, Belsat will continue its work. We are proud of providing the Belarusians with reliable and uncensored information in the Belarusian language even if it imay result in fines, arrests and searches.

We do appreciate our colleagues’ and viewers’ support.

90 detentions, $74K fines in 2 years. Belsat keeps calm and carries on in spite of persecution

Belsat TV directorship