Press release May 19, 2021
Belarus: Freedom House Condemns Raid on Independent Media Outlet
Authorities raided the offices of TUT.by, raided the homes of staff members, and detained at least 13 people, while preventing internet users from accessing its website.
In response to today’s raid on the offices of TUT.by, the largest independent news site in Belarus, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Today’s assault against TUT.by, which involved launching bogus criminal investigations, raids on the offices and the homes of TUT.by journalists, and detentions, is another alarming attempt by the Lukashenka regime to demolish the remnants of independent journalism in Belarus,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “By attacking the last vestiges of independent media inside the country, Lukashenka is trying to silence dissenting voices and maintain his grip on power. We are calling on the Belarusian authorities to respect the rule of law, human rights and freedom of the press, drop all bogus charges against TUT.by and its staff, and immediately release all journalists and allow them to freely provide authentic news to the Belarusian people.”
On the morning of May 18, the Financial Investigations Department of the Belarusian State Control Committee raided the Minsk and regional offices of TUT.by, the largest independent news site in Belarus, as well as the homes of its editors and journalists. Security forces seized equipment and detained 13 staff members, including general director Lyudmila Chekina and journalist Elena Tolkacheva. Editor in chief Marina Zolotova was also taken for questioning after police officers raided her home.
Journalists who visited TUT.by’s Minsk headquarters, including Artem Mayorov, Darja Burjakina, Julija Cherniavskaja, and Aleksandr Chernucho, were arrested. That same day, the authorities announced a criminal case against the outlet’s staff, alleging tax evasion. TUT.by’s online news portal and email service were blocked by the Ministry of Information and remain offline.
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