Lithuanian Foreign Ministry demands explanation for journalistic violence

  • 2008-03-26
  • In cooperation with BNS
VILNIUS-  Belarusian Ambassador to Lithuania VladimirDrazhin was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday and presented with a note regarding the detention of Lithuanian journalists inMinsk.

The official note called for a detailed investigation of the incident, aswell as an explanation and return of the seized videotape.

"The unlawful actions of Belarusian law-enforcement institutions whenjournalists are subjected to violence and prevented from performing theirprofessional duties are a severe violation of the principle of the freedomof pres, which is respected in the democratic society. This runs counter theaim to develop good relations between the neighboring states. Lithuania,which has been consistently supporting open cooperation of the two nationsliving in the neighboring countries, as well as cultural and businesscontacts and direct contacts between people, cannot tolerate restrictions ofgenerally accepted civil rights," the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said.

According to the press release, the Belarusian ambassador pledged to look all aspects of the incident and meet with thedirector general of the Lithuanian national radio and television services to settle the conflict.

Lithuanian President ValdasAdamkus stressed his repeated statements against the policy of BelarusianPresident Alexander Lukashenko.

"We have stated our position with regard to Belarus for a number ofyears. We speak for democratic principles and against the policy ofLukashenko, which has not changed a bit," Adamkus told journalists onWednesday afternoon.

Lithuanian journalists were forcibly detained in Minsk on Tuesday and takento a militia station,  where their video recording ofactions taken by Belarussian forces against demonstrators was takenaway.

LRT journalist Ruta Lankininkaite told evening news via telephone fromMinsk that she was detained by representatives of the forcesand forcibly dragged a distance of about 100 meters to a bus, where shewas interrogated by secret service agents. They then went on to damage her camera and removed a tape documenting the detaining of oppostition demotrators marking the90th anniversary of the Declaration of Belarus Independence.

Even though the journalists had permision from Belarussian authoritiesallowing them to work in Minsk, they were taken to a militia station, wherethey were interrogated for about one hour.

The journalists were then released, but the video was not recovered.