Belarusian Activist and Journalist Detained

The detention of Belarusian activist Mikita Kavalenka and journalist Alyaksandr Barazenka during a Minsk protest calling for the release of opposition activists is yet another disturbing example of the Lukashenka regime’s attempts to stifle dissent.  Kavalenka was sentenced to 15 days in jail for protesting and Barazenka to 11 days in jail for filming the “unsanctioned public action” –Barazenka is staging a hunger strike to protest his sentence.  Police arrested Barazenka numerous times for filming demonstrations without official permission – most recently, in December 2011 for filming a protest held by a Ukrainian women’s group.

One of the world’s worst human rights abusers, Belarus is ranked by Freedom House among the Worst of the Worst countries for political and civil rights. With the Belarusian population's mounting dissent and frustration with the policies of Lukashenka’s regime, intimidation tactics have become the only available means for a dictator struggling to keep a grip on his power. Faced with the growing threat of economic collapse and sanctions against Belarus by the United States and the European Union, Lukashenka has continued to crack down on members of the opposition, civil society and journalists, a number of whom have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms or have fled the country.   The state maintains a virtual monopoly on domestic broadcast media, which consistently glorifies Lukashenka and vilifies the opposition. Authorities also have imposed restrictions on news outlets, and security services have increasingly used internet surveillance technologies to monitor the public. Ales Bialatski, the head of human rights center Viasna, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison as a result of his professional activities providing assistance to those arrested during December 2010’s election protests. 

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2011: Belarus
Freedom of the Press 2011: Belarus
Freedom on the Net 2011: Belarus
Nations in Transit 2011: Belarus