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  • Minsk police raid offices of Tut.by portal, news agency BelaPAN

    Several floors of the TUT.BY portal office located in the Omega Tower business center in Minsk are being searched.


    “For the first twen­ty years of its exis­tence, a search is being con­duct­ed at tut.by. I have been not aware of any details yet. The staff are being pre­vent­ed from enter­ing the office. Mary­na Zolata­va [edi­tor-in-chief] might be inter­ro­gat­ed now. My hus­band is try­ing to find out what is going on,” Yuliya Charnyauskaya, the wife of Yury Ziss­er, a founder of tyt.by, said on Face­book.

    Law enforce­ment offi­cers are seiz­ing doc­u­ments, sev­er­al employ­ees of the por­tal have been sum­moned for ques­tion­ing. Accord­ing to pre­lim­i­nary infor­ma­tion, the search war­rant says that unau­tho­rized access to the web­site of Alyak­san­dr Lukashenka’s mouth­piece BelTA took place from the TUT.BY office.

    The police have also come to the office of Bela­PAN news agency with a search war­rant. a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the com­pa­ny con­firmed to belsat.eu.

    It should be recalled that the home of Ales Lipai, the founder and direc­tor gen­er­al of inde­pen­dent news agency Bela­PAN, was raid­ed by the finance police in June. Lipai was sus­pect­ed of tax eva­sion. It is the Finan­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment (part of the State Con­trol Com­mit­tee) that opened the crim­i­nal case against chair­man of the Human Rights Cen­tre Vias­na Ales Byaly­ats­ki in 2011. After the sev­en-hour search, Lipai was tak­en for ques­tion­ing and then released.

    Investigative Comittee: Three detainees

    The Belaru­sian Inves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee says a crim­i­nal case was ini­ti­at­ed under the arti­cle ‘unau­tho­rized access to com­put­er infor­ma­tion, made out of per­son­al inter­est, which caused sig­nif­i­cant harm’. Accord­ing to the inves­ti­ga­tors, state-run news agency BelTA report­ed abuse access to their paid sub­scrip­tion.

    “Dur­ing the inspec­tion the Min­istry of Inte­ri­or iden­ti­fied numer­ous cas­es of ille­gal access to infor­ma­tion, the own­er of which is BelTA,”, they stat­ed.

    A num­ber of com­pa­nies had ille­gal access to BelTA’s ‘pre­mi­um con­tent’ dur­ing the peri­od of 2017–2018, which ‘has caused sub­stan­tial finan­cial dam­age’ to the state-con­trolled agency.

    The offi­cial web­site of the Inves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee gives the names of employ­ees of tut.by, Bela­PAN and Belaru­sian Sci­ence pub­lish­ing house who they state are involved in ille­gal activ­i­ties. Mary­na Zolata­va (tut.by), Han­na Kalty­hi­na, Tat­syana Kar­avenka­va (Bela­PAN) have been detained. Accord­ing to uncon­firmed infor­ma­tion, Ulyana Babayed (tut.by) is also being ques­tioned.

    Сomment on sitoation

    “Raid­ing tut.by proves that attacks on Bel­sat, blog­gers, etc are not the police’s over­reach, but a dom­i­nant polit­i­cal vec­tor. I will not do any guess­work about what they will do to tut.by. maybe the case will be solved as that of Lipai, may be not. In any case, the regime shows that it still holds a soci­ety by the throat and they can block access to oxy­gen at any moment. Of course, not lit­er­al­ly, just to remem­ber the ‘patient’ who rules here.

    And don’t tell me about ‘lib­er­al­iza­tion’… You are too opti­mistic, there will be no ‘per­e­stroi­ka’, you should not hope for it,” jour­nal­ist Andrzej Poc­zobut said on Face­book.

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