Belsat TV journalist accused of assaulting policeman

A journalist working in Belarus for the Polish sponsored Belsat TV has been arrested for allegedly beating a policeman.

The incident occurred when police in Minsk tried to enter an apartment rented by Michal Janczuk, a reporter for Poland's public television (TVP) and coordinator of Belsat in Belarus, who was not at home at the time.

Inside the flat, however, were employees of Belsat. One of them, journalist Ivan Szulha, who was leaving the building, noticed the attempted police raid and shouted to his colleagues not to let them in. Szulha was then detained and accused of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.

"We believe that the Belarusian authorities' action today is another attempt to interfere with and discredit the work of independent journalists in Belarus," Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy, head of Belsat TV said Wednesday.

Belarusian authorities said police were trying to enter the building after numerous complaints from neighbours about noise coming from the flat.

Belsat, say its founders, was set up in 2007 by the Polish government in conjunction with TVP to provide balanced news and cultural programmes via satellite in Belarusian, Polish and Russian languages. Belarusian president, Aleksander Luskashenko has called the project "stupid", and sees it as another attempt by outside forces to destabilise his regime.

Critics say that the arrest of the journalist is another example of the regime wanting to snuff out independent media in Belarus. This week saw coming into law measures which further tighten freedom to publish and access content on the internet, via a new agency directly answerable to the president.


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