The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) demanded to end repression against journalists and release the representatives of Belarus Press Club, particularly its founder Yulia Slutskaya, detained on Tuesday, 22 December.
The federation noted that in response to the third package of EU sanctions against Belarus, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei announced retaliatory measures against Belarusian organisations, which received support from foreign embassies in the country.
“Among the first victims of this new wave of repression: Yulia Slutskaya, founder of the Press Club Belarus and member of the BAJ Board of Directors,” reads the statement.
Besides, security forces searched the apartments of Press Club Program Director Alla Sharko, Press Club Director Sergei Olshevsky and Program Director of the Press Club Academy Sergei Yakupov.
“This repression must stop immediately,” said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. “We demand the release of Yulia and all her colleagues. We call on the European Union, the Council of Europe and the OSCE to react vigorously to this new wave of repression.”
The federation also recalled that since the presidential election on 9 August, 385 journalists have been detained in Belarus, just for doing their job. Four of them remain in prison: Ekaterina Andreeva, Daria Chultsova, Ekaterina Borisevich, and Alexandra Pilipovich-Sushchits.
Yesterday security forces came to Press Club Belarus. Soon after that, at least six people disappeared. The Financial Investigation Department of the State Control Committee stated that it is conducting “an investigation into the facts of violations of the tax legislation of the Republic of Belarus in relation to officials of the cultural and educational institution ‘Journalistic Workshop Press Club’ and other business entities, including receipt of large sums of money from abroad”.
Press Club Belarus is part of an international network of press clubs that provide a platform for professional growth of the media community. Press Club Belarus arranges educational lectures and seminars for journalists, as well as conducts research. Yulia Slutskaya is a well-known Belarusian media manager, for many years she was the chief editor of the Belarusian “Komsomolskaya Pravda” newspaper, and then the chief editor of “Euroradio”.