Russian journalist Alexander Lashmankin sentenced to administrative arrest in Orsha (Belarus). In response the journalist went on a hunger strike

The city courtof Orsha settledthe case of “disorderly conduct” in which Alexander Lashmankin was accused – a Russian journalist, editor of the news agency “Freedom”, which received official accreditation from the Belarusian Foreign Ministry. The judge Ina Kokhav found the arguments of the charges convincing enough and sentenced him to three days of administrative arrest. The jailed journalist went onhunger strike.

Tonightabout 1 a.m. in thetown ofOrsha, at the firststationafter crossing theRussian-Belarusian border, AlexanderLashmankinwas taken off the train“Chelyabinsk – Brest” by the transportpoliceofficers–lieutenantFilippovandpoliceofficer Kurochkin. Originallythe journalist himself, as well asthe human rights defenderswho called the transport line station of the Orshadistrict transport police department, where Lashmankin was detained,were notexplainedthe reasons fordetention.

However,it turned out laterthat the reasonfor thedetentionof the accredited journalistwasan anonymous telephone callstating that thejournalistallegedlytransporteddrugs. It is alsoreportedthat amphetamines-likepowderwas seized from AlexanderLashmankin, andnowa mysteriouspowderwas sentfor examination.

The InternationalObservationMissionnowhasseriousconcernsthatin addition tothe administrative caseagainstLashmankinhe canbealso criminally prosecutedforthe “drug” article. It should beemphasizedthatAlexanderLashmankinwas going tovisitBelarusfor the purpose offulfilling hisprofessionalduties–reporting the situation in thecountryinconnectionwith thepersecution ofthe opposition and civilsocietyafter the presidential electionson December 19th, 2010.

The officialreasonforthe administrativearrest wasevidence ofthe police officersthatAlexanderLashmankinatdetentionwas obscenelyswearingandwaving hisarms. The trial ofLashmankinstarted this morning, originallywithouta lawyer presentand admissionto themeeting of therepresentatives of the public(inparticular,those of the BelarusianHelsinkiCommittee). Later, however,the trialwasinterruptedandLashmankinwasappointeda statedefender–Dmitri Mironov.

According to theBelarusian Ministryof Foreign Affairs, the arrestof AlexanderLashmankinis not connectedwithhis professional activities.

“We lookforward to the official reaction of the Russian Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the court's decision in the case of Alexander Lashmankin who in our opinion did not commit anything illegal. Actions of the Belarusian authorities are inconsistent: firstly they officially accredited the journalist, and then began to mend him obstacles in carrying out his professional duties. We will closely monitor the development of this case,” – says Konstantin Baranov, representative of the International Observation Mission in Belarus.

 

International ObservationMission of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus

http://hrwatch-by.org/

mission@hrwatch-by.org

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