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Belarus Jails Russian Journalist, Then 'Annuls Accreditation'

Aleksandr Lashmankin

Aleksandr Lashmankin

MINSK -- A Russian journalist and rights activist jailed for three days in Belarus for hooliganism says his foreign-journalist accreditation has been annulled, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Belarusian transport police arrested Aleksandr Lashmankin on March 24 in the eastern city of Vorsha as he was traveling by train from Russia to Belarus.

He was sentenced to three days in jail that same day for "cursing Belarusian police and using rude and vulgar words while talking to them." Lashmankin refused food for the duration of his detention in protest at his arrest.

Lashmankin told RFE/RL that he went to the Foreign Ministry on March 28 to obtain his next annual accreditation card but was told that it had been annulled due to his "breaking Belarusian laws."

He said he was asked to visit the Foreign Ministry on March 29 to get the final documents regarding the termination of his accreditation.

Lashmankin said he plans to appeal his arrest and the decision to annul his accreditation, describing both as politically motivated.

Lashmankin, from the Russian city of Samara, planned to make a series of reports about Belarus and its citizens for his Svoboda (Liberty) news agency, which focuses on human rights issues.

Also on March 28, AP reported that a correspondent in Grodno for one of Poland's biggest newspapers, "Gazeta Wyborcza," has been charged by Belarusian authorities with insulting the president, which could result in a two-year prison sentence. Belarusian prosecutors said the charge was based on 10 articles written by Andrzej Poczobut that appeared in his newspaper and on a Belarusian opposition website.

Read more in Belarusian here