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Jailed Belarus Journalist Not Allowed To See Lawyer

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