Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has condemned Belarus's detention of another of its correspondents, Ales Dashchynski, as authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka continues to crack down on independent media.
Dashchynski's relatives told RFE/RL that police detained him on July 16 after his apartment in Minsk was searched and his computer, telephone, a hard drive, several flash memory sticks, and a bank card were confiscated.
His accreditation as a journalist was canceled last October as part of Lukashenka's campaign against dissent and free media following a disputed presidential election in August that the opposition and many Western nations say was rigged.
Dashchynski's detainment came the same day as police and security forces raided the offices and homes of several independent journalists across Belarus, including RFE/RL's offices in Minsk. The raids resulted in the detention of several people, including two other RFE/RL correspondents whose accreditations also were annulled in October -- Aleh Hruzdzilovich and Ina Studzinskaya.
"The arrest of RFE/RL’s Ales Dashchynski -- just like the arrests of his colleagues Aleh Hruzdzilovich and Ina Studzinskaya, and so many other independent Belarusian journalists -- is the latest searing testimony to the desperation of Alyaksandr Lukashenka," RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said in a statement on July 18. "These continuous assaults on journalists serving the people of Belarus will not mask the truth about what is happening in Belarus. Ales and his colleagues should be released immediately."
Belarusian authorities have moved to shut down critical and nonstate media outlets and human right bodies in the wake of mass protests after the disputed election. The opposition and West say Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya won the vote and accuse Lukashenka of falsifying the result to give him a sixth consecutive term in power.
Lukashenka has put down street protests and dissent over the vote with sometimes lethal force, jailing thousands of people and forcing most opposition leaders who haven't been imprisoned to leave the country.
The West, which has refused to recognize the official results of the vote and does not consider Lukashenka to be the country's legitimate leader, has imposed several rounds of sanctions against the 66-year-old, some of his family members, other senior officials, and on key economic sectors in the former Soviet republic.
Recently, the EU imposed further far-reaching penalties aimed at weakening the regime after the forced landing of a European passenger plane in Minsk and the arrest of an opposition blogger who was on board.