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World Reacts To Police Raids At TUT.BY, Journalists’ Detentions

International organizations, human rights activists, local authorities and foreign media reacted to the police raids and journalists detentions of TUT.BY and Belapan news agencies.

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Freedom of media is one of the most important human rights in a democratic society. It should be thoroughly respected everywhere in Europe,” the statement of the Council of Europe reads.

“We have been informed about searches and arrests in a number of most prominent Belarusian media.

This information is of great concern for the Council of Europe. Moreover, some of those concerned are our long-standing partners well known as high-level professionals.

Legislation must be respected but investigations do not always require arrests which should be used as an ultimate tool.

We therefore call on the Belarusian investigative authorities to ensure rapid and transparent investigation. We also call to liberate all the arrested journalists.

Reporters without borders (RSF) also condemned the situation.

The International Press Institute (IPI) shared FRANCE24 publication recalling that Belarus is ranked 155th out of 180 countries in this year’s Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index.

The New York Times quoted Andrei Bastunets, the head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, who decribed the move as an attempt to intimidate independent journalists.

He said that “the authorities are trying to cover the attack on leading independent media with economic motives.”

AP and Reuters refer to local rights groups who see the arrests as part of a government drive to muzzle independent media.

Anatoly Glaz, the Press Secretary of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, see the situation from a different persepctive.

“Don’t look for any motives or “pitfalls” – the situation has nothing to do with politics, freedom of media or journalism in Belarus,” he said in an interwiew with Sputnik.