Minibuses with tinted windows and an ambulance are spotted near the BelaPAN office in Minsk. An editorial office of the independent news agency is currently being searched. Journalists, as well as editor-in-chief Irina Levshina can’t be reached at the moment.
The article is being updated.
“We have no contact with the editorial office staff. They do not take the calls,” BelaPAN editor-in-chief Irina Levshina said before she urgently headed to the office. She is not answering her phone too.
Suspicious minibuses with tinted windows are parked outside the office. Several people entered the building. According to various reports, one of the BelaPAN employees felt unwell and the ambulance was called.
“At 12.10 am a search began in the BelaPAN news agency. People in uniform came to us,” BelaPAN journalist Tatiana Bublikova wrote on her Facebook page. She also specified that the office is being searched by the Investigative Committee in a criminal case against journalist Andrei Aleksandrov, who has worked for the agency for several years.
Lawyer Sergei Zikratsky has arrived at the agency’s office to provides legal services. However, he was not allowed inside, under the pretext that the search had already begun. As the BAJ reports, the search in BelaPAN is over. None of the employees was detained. Some handwritten notes and printed documents, hard drives from computers and the server, and laptops were seized.
BelaPAN is the oldest non-governmental independent Belarusian news agency. It was founded in 1991 by Ales Lipay. On 13 January, journalist and media manager Andrei Alexandrov was detained as a suspect for “Organization of group actions that grossly violate public order or active participation in them.” His girlfriend Irina Zlobina was also detained, she is a suspect in a criminal case too.