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A German journalist covering the Belarusian presidential election for Deutsche Welle was arrested by police on Wednesday, according to the German media website.
German freelance journalist Alexander Burakov, who works for the German public news group Deutsche Welle, was arrested by Belarusian police on Wednesday (August 5th) in the town of Mogilyov, located 200 kilometers from the capital, Minsk, reports Friday the german media site.
The reporter who was covering the Belarusian presidential election is officially suspected by the police of “transporting contraband alcohol,” he told the Belarusian human rights organization Viasna. Alexander Burakov was taken to the police station in the evening, despite the fact that the latter found nothing while inspecting his car. According to Deutsche Welle, the police believed that the reporter’s vehicle had been stolen and that his registration number could have been forged.
A second arrest
A few hours later, the journalist was released, before being arrested again… A few steps from the police station. Boris Vyrvich, the head of the local branch of the Belarusian Association of Journalists in Mogilyov, told the German broadcaster that witnesses said Alexander Burakov had argued with an unidentified woman outside the police station and shouted : “It’s a provocation”, before being questioned again.
The German group condemned the journalist’s arrest and called on the authorities to guarantee press freedom in Belarus. “The intimidation efforts against our correspondent are a perfect illustration of the plight of journalists in Belarus,” Manuela Kasper-Claridge, the group’s editor, said in a statement on Thursday.
The journalist had already been arrested on May 8, 2020 and sentenced to ten days in pre-trial detention. The German public media tried to contact the reporter several times, without success.
This arrest was not a surprise to the journalist. A few days before his arrest, Alexander Burakov had told Deutsche Welle that he was concerned about actions taken by the authorities to hinder the work of independent journalists, in particular regarding the coverage of the Belarusian presidential election.