Belarus police raid homes and offices of journalists, rights activists
Belarusian police searched the offices and homes of journalists and human rights activists for the third successive day on Friday, extending what rights activists say is a new crackdown on opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko.
KYIV: Security services in Belarus raided the homes of a dozen independent journalists on Friday (Jul 16) in a continuing crackdown on media and rights groups by President Alexander Lukashenko's regime.
The searches came two days after authorities raided the offices of a dozen human rights organisations and after the UN rights chief said recent moves by Belarusian authorities were "completely unacceptable".
"Searches took place (at the homes of) 12 journalists, some were detained," the Belarusian Association of Journalists said in a statement.
US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was the main target of the raids, with security services raiding the homes of several of its journalists and detaining at least one.
RFE/RL journalist Oleg Gruzdilovich was detained after a search at his home, his wife wrote on Facebook.
"Oleg was taken away in handcuffs," Marianna Gruzdilovich said, adding that nine officials took part in the raid.
"We were waiting for this every day," she added.
According to a company renting an office next door, over a dozen security officials broke down the door to the US-funded media's offices.
The opposition channel Belsat reported that three of its journalists' homes were searched and that one of them - Ganna Galyota - was detained.
Searches also took place outside Minsk.
Two Belsat journalists who are currently abroad said officials searched their parents' homes in Brest, a city on the Polish border.
An independent journalist based in the western city of Grodno also reported a raid.
Earlier this week the country's notorious KGB searched the offices of a dozen human rights and opposition groups across the country, detaining activists.
Ten of them are still in prison, according to rights group Vyasna, a prime target in the raids.
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet slammed the escalating crackdown on Thursday.
"I am deeply alarmed at the latest developments in Belarus," she said in a statement.
In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week, Lukashenko vowed to "find and bring to justice" all of his country's "wretched NGOs".
The long-serving authoritarian leader, who sparked mass protests by claiming to have won a sixth presidential term in an election last year, has drawn condemnation from the West whose leaders say the vote was not free or fair.