Journalists Detained When Covering Businessmen Strike

Three journalists were detained at noon today on their way from Zhdanovichy market to the Parking trade center in Minsk. Unidentified plain-clothed people blocked the journalists’ car, dragged them out from the car, forced them into a minibus and took to the police department.

The correspondent of the Radio Svaboda Ihar Karney, correspondent of Narodnaya Volya Ales’ Sivy, and the journalist of TUT.by Natallia Kastsiukevich were preparing a report about the all-national strike of entrepreneurs: on June 27 sole traders are protesting against the technical regulations of the Customs Union “On safety of light industry” which envisages obtaining a certificate guaranteeing the good quality of goods imported from Russia. The regulation might be difficult to fulfill and might result in confiscations, fines and closures of businesses, fear the organizers of the strike. Together with the journalists, the police detained the leader of the businessmen organization Perspective Anatol Shumchanka.

At 2.15 pm all journalists were set free.

“They asked nothing, did nothing. They took our editorial press-card and passport to check identity, and asked if we had ever had administrative punishments,” said NV journalist Ales’ Sivy.

He said that at first the journalists were taken to the Soviet district police department, but almost at the entrance somebody called on the phone to the policemen, and they were redirected to the Central district police department. Both the departments denied that they had received any detainees.

According to BelaPANthis morning around 400 strikers met in Zhdanovichy market to discuss the situation with the market managers and the head of the department on trade and services of the Central district administration in Minsk.

At around 11.40am, when the meeting ended, a deputy head of the Central district police department came up to the leader of the strikers Anatol Shumchanka and offered to follow him to the police department in order to have a talk. Shumchanka asked if he was being detained, and the answer was no. Shumchanka refused to proceed to the police department and left the market accompanied by the journalists.

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