Three arrested journalists released, Shumchanka remaining in custody


The three journalists who were arrested by police in Minsk on Thursday have been released, while Anatol Shumchanka, leader of a small business association called Perspektyva, remains in custody.

Mr. Shumchanka, Ihar Karney, of the Belarus Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Ales Sivy, of the private newspaper Narodnaya Volya, and Natallya Kastsyukevich, of web portal, were intercepted by police at about 12:30 p.m. while they were driving to the Parking shopping center in downtown Minsk. Small business owners with sole entrepreneur status across Belarus are staging a one-day strike against the introduction of new certification rules for imported clothing and footwear within the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

“Police officers checked our passport data to make sure that we weren’t wanted for some offenses and then told us to go home,” Mr. Karney said in an interview with BelaPAN.

Thousands of sole entrepreneurs in Minsk, Mahilyow, Homyel, Brest, Polatsk, Kastsyukovichy, and Baranavichy are known to have gone on strike at the suggestion of Perspektyva.

The Parking shopping center and stalls selling goods other than food at the Zhdanovichy market just outside the capital city were closed on Thursday morning. Mr. Shumchanka participated in a rally held by about 400 protesters at the Zhdanovichy market. After the rally was over, the Tsentralny district police station’s deputy chief approached Mr. Shumchanka and announced that police officers wanted to talk to him in their room at the marketplace. However, after hearing that he was not being arrested, Mr. Shumchanka said that he would not have any conversations with police officers and drove away. //BelaPAN