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Alyaksandr Barazenka (file photo)
MINSK -- The lawyer of jailed Belarusian journalist Alyaksandr Barazenka has not been allowed to see his client at a Minsk detention center, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Barazenka was sentenced to 11 days in jail for filming a public protest staged in front of KGB headquarters in Minsk on January 8 by opposition activist Mikita Kavalenka.

Both Kavalenka and Barazenka were detained in front of KGB headquarters.

The Minsk Central Court ruled that Barazenka is equally responsible for the unsanctioned public action, as he had filmed similar gatherings in the past. He was given an 11-day sentence and Kavalenka was given 15 days in jail.

Barazenka started a hunger strike to protest his arrest and sentence, saying he was not participating in the protest but was filming it as part of his work as a journalist.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned Barazenka's arrest in a statement on January 11 and called on the Belarusian authorities to release him immediately.

The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, also condemned Barazenka's arrest, saying the Belarusian government "should allow journalists to cover any political event, whether officially sanctioned or not, for the sake of society's right to know."

Belarusian Journalists Association Deputy Chairman Andrey Bastunets told RFE/RL that in 2011, at least 100 journalists were arrested while covering public gatherings and actions.

"We have been trying to persuade the authorities that journalists are doing their professional work while covering the events and gatherings and they have every right to do so," Bastunets said.

"The arrests of journalists mean a violation of their freedom of expression. We are currently following Alyaksandr's ordeal and fully support him."

Barazenka's lawyer said he needed to see his client in order to discuss his appeal against his sentence and to see his current state of health. But detention center officials would not allow him to visit Barazenka.

Read more in Belarusian here
Stan-TV editor Asel Limzhanova says local officials have tried to block the station's reporting in Zhanaozen.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Journalists from the independent online television station Stan-TV say police in the restive city of Zhanaozen are hindering the media's work, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Stan-TV chief editor Asel Limzhanova, along with journalists Zhuldyz Toleu and Qasym Amanzhol, said in Almaty on January 11 that local police and security forces have been trying to block their coverage of the mass strike of oil workers in the western city of Zhanaozen since May.

They said the tension between police and journalists worsened after the deadly clashes between striking oil workers and police took place in the city on December 16.

The Stan-TV journalists added that they and their relatives had been under pressure since last summer as they started covering the standoff between oil workers and the OzenMunaiGaz oil company.

After the deadly clashes last month in Zhanaozen and the nearby town of Shetpe that left at least 17 protesters dead, the Stan-TV journalists and their relatives were summoned more often to police for questioning.

"As we are currently under police scrutiny we would like to state publicly that we do not use drugs, we are not associated with any extremist group, and do not possess any weapons," Limzhanova said.

The three also stated that they have officially called on President Nursultan Nazarbaev to protect them from security officials' and law enforcement officers' "lawlessness."

The Almaty-based Stan-TV makes video reports from the five Central Asian countries and posts them on its website. It is associated with Kazakh businessman Mukhtar Ablyazov, who is wanted in Kazakhstan on criminal charges but lives in self-imposed exile in England.

Read more in Kazakh here

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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