Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Several Poles have gone missing in Belarus, there is a hunt for reporters

Source: WPolityce/PAP/Anna Ivanova

There are indications that there are two Polish students are among those detained in Minsk - said MP Michał Szczerba on Tuesday before midnight. He is the only Polish politician who went to Belarus at the invitation of the local opposition as an observer.

"5 thousand people were detained. One person died, most likely from an OMON (special police unit) grenade. Large electronic manufacturer in Minsk is on strike, they are calling for the release of the detainees. Since Sunday, Belarus has been cut off from the Internet, everything is blocked" - said the politician in an interview on Polish Radio on Tuesday. He added, that the detainees include representatives of all social groups, including the ruling party.

Before midnight the politician tweeted about Polish students detained by the police.

"Unfortunately, everything indicates that there are two Polish students among those detained in Minsk. I was contacted by their families who lost contact with them yesterday evening. I received an assurance from the Ambassador that the Consul is trying to find them" - we read in the entry.

Beloved, my son Kacper Sienicki together with his friend Witek Dobrowolski were arrested by the police in Minsk, Belarus. I haven't had contact with him since yesterday. Also, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Minsk are not able to help me. I don't know where he was taken and I don't know what to do. I am crying and begging you to share this post, because only by publicizing this matter I can do anything now. Kacper graduated from East European Studies, hence his interests. He went to support his Belarusian friends. Hope he's okay and he'll get back to me soon. Help, please, share - Aneta Sienicka wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

There are reports about the beatings of journalists.

"This is a nightmare, there is a HUNT for journalists. In Grodno, 2 of the Belsat TV associates were beaten. Jan Roman had 4 teeth knocked out. Alesia Dzianisaw, the operator, and Ruslan Kulewicz, the head of the local portal, were also injured. The police is destroying the equipment"- tweeted Agnieszka Romaszewska, head of the Belsat station.

"The journalist Jan Roman, who works with TV Polonia, was beaten on Monday at the Grodno police station and is currently in hospital," said Andrzej Poczobut, an activist of the Union of Poles in Belarus. "Yesterday they were supposed to release his arrested colleagues from the custody. He came to the police station to meet them. Suddenly, a military Hummer (exact copy of Hummer produced in China) drove up, from which the special forces people jumped out and started beating everyone with batons" - said Poczobut.

Roman "got kicked in the face and had four front teeth knocked out." The journalist spent the night in custody and was sentenced to a fine on Tuesday morning. There is no contact with him but there are reports that he is in the hospital.