Belarusian police are searching journalists’ houses in the wake of the ongoing raid | Europe news

The latest searches expand what human rights activists refer to as crackdown on opponents of longtime President Alexander Lukashenko.

Security officials in Belarus searched the offices and homes of independent journalists and human rights defenders for the third day in a row.

The Poland-based broadcaster Nexta Live announced that the office of the US broadcaster Radio Liberty in the capital Minsk had also been searched on Friday. The Belarusian human rights organization Viasna-96 reported that two journalists were arrested by Radio Liberty.

Police officers also visited the homes of a journalist from the Polish TV channel Belsat and several local reporters, Viasna-96 reported.

The authorities have closed a number of nongovernmental media and human rights groups since protests began in August 2020 against a presidential election that the opposition said was rigged. The protests subsided during the Belarusian winter following a violent crackdown in which thousands of demonstrators were arrested, several were killed and hundreds sentenced to long prison terms for the unrest.

Lukashenko denies election fraud. He has been in power since 1994 and, according to official results in last year’s poll, claimed a sixth term with 80 percent of the vote.

On Wednesday and Thursday, security officers searched the premises of about 20 human rights, charity, media and expert organizations and arrested more than 15 people, including the head of Viasna-96.

The searches and arrests were condemned by Western politicians, international human rights activists and Belarusian protest leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who lives in Lithuania.

The human rights chief of the United Nations, Michelle Bachelet, criticized the escalating procedure on Thursday.

“I am deeply alarmed by recent developments in Belarus,” she said in a statement.

“Such an approach is completely unacceptable,” said Bachelet, accusing the Belarusian authorities of showing “a blatant disregard … of their obligations under international human rights law”.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK condemned an “escalation of repression” in Belarus and that the European Union and the US have imposed sanctions on Belarus in recent months.


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