Detainees in Minsk do not have such ties as journalists do; they just have no rights

Author : Kristina Berdynskykh

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukrainian journalist Kristina Berdynskykh, detained in Minsk for passing parcels to those detained during "parasitism march," unveils the details of her detention
09:56, 27 March 2017

Read the original text at Facebook of Kristina Berdynskykh.


I want to tell you what happened. I wanted to go to Minsk to mark the Day of Will and write a reportage about it. A week ago, I have sent all the necessary documents to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry to get the accreditation. Yesterday, the press service of the Foreign Ministry told me that my accreditation is ready and I can pick it up this morning.

When checked in Kyiv-Minsk train by Belarusian inspection, I honestly confessed that I work as a journalist and that I have accreditation of the Foreign Ministry. The word "journalist" frightened everyone; every file on my computer, every business card in my wallet, all the notes in my notebook were checked. They checked how much money I had with me, each pocket, my ATO press card.  For about 5 times, they asked about what I was going to write in my reportage. I was the only person in my car, who was so carefully checked. I calmly answered all the questions, explaining that a week ago I have received my press card, and all possible special services have already checked the info on me. They gave my documents back and wished a "good luck".

Related: Ukrainian journalist detained in Belarus

Related: Journalist Kristina Berdynskykh released from police station in Minsk

Today (March 24 – ed.) at 8:40 am, I arrived in Minsk and immediately went to the Foreign Ministry to get the accreditation.  I have got it without any problems, and I finally calmed down. I work officially, and I have nothing to fear.

In social networks, we read information that at 17:00 on Fabricius Street, 4 anyone can bring a parcel for detainees. We went there to work and communicate with people. People mostly brought toilet paper, personal hygiene items, etc. All this was happening in the room on the 3rd floor. At 17:40, someone said that the police are already on duty on the 1st floor. We went downstairs. Police officers recorded the personal details of all those who descended. Only 14 people, including 4 journalists. We showed our accreditations, passports, but the police refused to explain anything. One of the militiamen said that someone called the police and said that a crime had occurred in this building. The police came on call and wrote down the data of all as possible witnesses to the crime. "What crime?" - I clarified. "This information is not for disclosure," they replied. "That is, I cannot find out what kind of crime I witnessed?" Silence. At this time, a blue bus arrived. "You probably do not know what the blue bus means, it takes everyone away," one guy explained to me.

Related: EU demands release of citizens detained in Belarus during protest rally

Indeed, we were asked to proceed to the bus. All this time we asked the same questions: "What's going on, why are we taken away, what have we committed?" At the same time, we were told that we had not been detained. In the bus, I learned that one of the guys did not even bring a parcel for the detainees, he was just coming down from the building, in which there is a creative workshop. He helped to paint a mannequin, and his hands were in paint, and at 18:30 he was going to go to the French short films.

The bus brought us to the Moscow police department on Grushevska street, 9. For another 20 minutes, we were sitting inside the bus. Then the door opened and a law enforcement official told us that "as you have been already explained, you are all detained on administrative violation, your rights are limited, so you have to switch off your mobile phones at the police station."

"But no one explained anything to us! They told us that we were not detained!" We were indignant.

"Then I will explain to you it now," he replied.

Related: 57 human rights defenders and volunteers, who were to watch Freedom March, detained in Belarus, — journalist

We were asked to leave the bus for 4 people. Then we were taken to the police office. In the big room, with Belarusian flag and the words of the national anthem on the wall, the policemen carefully wrote down our personal data. They did not answer the basic questions: "Why are we here? What have we violated? What is going on?"

Since police appeared on Fabricius street, I wrote many posts in social networks and therefore did not panic. I understood that everyone in Ukraine already knows about our detention and that diplomats, journalists, and politicians would do everything possible to free me.

After some time, a new man appeared in the room - a spokesperson for the entire Minsk police. He asked media employees to separate the passports. He checked our accreditations and after some time the journalists were asked to leave the room, and we were given our passports.

Related: Opposition member and poet Neklyayev detained in Belarus

On the street, we asked again - what would happened to these people who remained in the police building? The spokesman answered that he only deals with journalists and once again warned that tomorrow, on the Day of Will, we must have a passport and MFA accreditation with us.

Thank the diplomats. Ukrainian ambassador called me and said that they came to the District Internal Affairs Office immediately, as soon as they have heard of my detention. Thanks to everyone who reposted and wrote. But unfortunately, this is a very sad story. Those 10 detained for nothing people do not have such connections like journalists do. These people are absolutely powerless. Nobody explains anything to them, their questions are not answered, their phones are turned off, and this is absolutely deadlocked situation. It is very sad. Let us see what happens tomorrow.

Related: US concerned over dispersal of peaceful rally in Belarus

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