Reporters Without Borders holds protest against Belarus blogger arrest


Press advocacy group Reporters Sans Frontiers activists and local journalists hold photos of journalists detained in Belarus at Salcininkai border crossing point, Lithuania on May 27, 2021. REUTERS/Janis Laizans

SALCININKAI BORDER CROSSING POINT, Lithuania (Reuters) -Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Thursday held a protest against the treatment of journalists by Belarus at the country's border with Lithuania, while the leader of Belarus opposition in exile called for more protests on Saturday.

On Sunday Belarus forcibly landed a Ryanair plane flying from Athens to Vilnius and arrested the opposition blogger Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend, who were on board.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said this week that Protasevich had been plotting a "bloody rebellion."

The incident sparked international outrage and calls for sanctions against Belarus. Minsk accused the West of using the episode to wage "hybrid war."

Protasevich was "alive, well", his lawyer said after meeting him, Russian state news agency RIA reported on Thursday.

His social media feed from exile had been one of the last remaining independent sources of news about Belarus, a country sandwiched between Russia and the NATO Western security alliance.

RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire, who headed the protests, told reporters on Wednesday in Vilnius that Belarus' actions were part of a new way of attacking press freedom and that this was something "not imaginable a few years ago."

"In Belarus, there is an institutional hijacking of a plane, just to arrest the journalist," he said.

He and a dozen Lithuanian and Belarusian protesters held pictures of journalists jailed in Belarus, including Protasevich.

Svetlana Tikhanouskaya, who challenged Belarus' incumbent leader Alexander Lukashenko at the August presidential election and had to leave the country soon after, announced an international act of solidarity with Belarusians on May 29.

Tikhanouskaya, in Vilnius, called on people to take part in protests with local politicians.

Lukashenko has said street protests were no longer possible in Belarus.

Since the crackdown that followed the contested Aug. 9 presidential election in Belarus, 430 journalists were arrested and 20 are still in jail in the country, according to the press advocacy group's count.

Belarus ranks 158th out of 180 countries in RSF's World Press Freedom Index.

(Reporting by Janis Laizans in Salcininkai and Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, additional reporting by Andrey Ostroukh in Moscow; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights
   

Next In World

Magnitude 6.7 quake hits south of Manila
Israeli troops kill Palestinian teen in West Bank clash, say officials
Biden assures Afghan President Ghani of continued U.S. support -White House
Venezuela says U.S. military plane violated its airspace
Guatemala attorney general removes head of anti-corruption unit
Biden authorizes $100 million in emergency funds for Afghan refugees
Blinken to raise human rights with counterparts in India -U.S. official
Over 71% of Lebanon's population risks losing access to safe water - UNICEF
Senior U.S. diplomat to lead talks with Russia next week -State Department
U.S. military carries out second strike in Somalia this week

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers