Belarusian authorities have repatriated two Russian cameraman and canceled the recognition cards of several foreign media outlets. These include two BBC journalists. The move comes a day after protests in the country, challenging the results of the recent presidential election. Belarusian government spokesman Anatoly Glaze told French news agency AFP that the move was recommended by the country’s counter-terrorism unit.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has faced the biggest threat in his 27-year rule. Protests erupted earlier this month after allegations of electoral fraud surfaced. Hundreds of thousands of people staged a protest on 22 August in the capital Minsk. But President Lukashenko is still reluctant to relent. They called demonstrative mice.
The BBC’s press team reported on Saturday (29 August) that the recognition cards of two journalists working for Minsk for their Russian service were immediately withdrawn. A tweet was tweeted condemning the move by BBC officials. “We believe it is very important for the people of Belarus to have free and unbiased information on the affairs of their country,” it said.
Among those who lost their recognition cards were BBC journalist Tatiana Melnickhak. He told AFP: “The Belarussian Foreign Ministry has called me and told me that the accreditation card of me and another BBC colleague has been canceled. They asked me to return the card.”
The Belarussian government has claimed that the move was made on the recommendation of the anti-terrorism unit. However, no information was given about the number of journalists whose recognition cards have been canceled. But apart from the BBC, Europe-based station Radio Liberty has reported the cancellation of its journalists’ cards.
Meanwhile, a Russian cameraman working for ARD TV, a television station operated by a West German broadcasting company, and a Belarusian producer were arrested on Friday evening. He was released on Saturday. Station officials said Belarusian authorities have banned Russian cameraman for five years and sent him back to Moscow. Also last Friday, Swedish photographer Paul Henson was banned for five years and ordered to leave Belarus within 24 hours.