Onliner journalist Daria Spevak, Vadim Zamirovsky and Vsevolod Zarubin, who work for TUT.BY and BelaPAN, were detained when covering a student rally on Saturday and “taken to a police department for a document verification”. Three hours later, an administrative process was started against them under Art. 23.34 (Participation in unauthorised mass events) and 23.4 (Failure to comply with a legal order or demand of an official in the exercise of his official powers) of the Code of Administrative Offenses.
On Monday, 19 October, the court decided to punish Darya Spevak with 13 days of arrest, Vadim Zamirovsky and Vsevolod Zarubin were sentenced to 15 days of arrest.
According to Onliner, the witnesses in Darya Spevak’s case are Simonchik and Kushner – both did not appear in court. The first one, according to a report, detained the journalist.
“I was covering a student march, first near the BSUIR. After that, with my colleagues at the MSLU, where students went to the intersection of Kozlov and Independence Avenue. At about 1 pm, several minibuses arrived with officers in black, as I understand it, it was OMON [riot police]. Two people came up to me, took me by the elbows and dragged to a car.
Nobody introduced themselves, they only said: ‘Give me your phone.’ I was doing my job. Nobody told me the reasons for my detention, and I didn’t ask. I heard the order ‘Detain the press’, we all know that this is not the first time [journalists are detained], I thought – for documents verification,” the journalist said in court.
Vadzim Zamirouski, Daria Spevak, Usevalad Zarubin, Artsiom Mayorau, Ales Lubianchuk, Raman Chmel and Maksim Khliabets did not come home after covering the protest today. They will spend the night at Akrestsina jail.
Alena Dounar and Dzianis Yakshtas are still behind the bars, too
— БАЖ | BAJ (@baj_by) October 18, 2020
Journalists Vadzim Zamirouski, Daria Spevak, and Usevalad Zarubin were detained for id check. However, some time later the police drew up administrative protocols and took them to Akrestsina detention center. They will stay there until trial on Monday. pic.twitter.com/Mc0cx2hebM
— БАЖ | BAJ (@baj_by) October 17, 2020
The moment of Darya’s arrest was caught on video. Spevak’s lawyer drew attention to the fact that the interrogation repor of the journalist was not completed, and that it states that she was detained at 1.30 pm on the same day, while she “participated in the rally” at about 1 pm.
“My client fulfilled her professional duties. She had a badge with her, which proves this, and also allows her to attend public events.”
The lawyer offered to revise the case. After reading the interrogation reports of witnesses-policemen Simonchik and Kushner, the judge made a decision to find Darya Spevak guilty and sentence her to seven days of arrest under Article 23.34 and six days under Article 23.4. In total, Daria will stay under arrest for performing her professional activities for 13 days.
Vadim Zamirovsky who is currently in the temporary detention center on Okrestin Street, his testimony via video link. Zamirovsky did not admit the charges. He explained that on 17 October he was working on the students’ march.
“It [detention] happened at 1.04 pm, no one approached us, no requests were made to leave the territory. I was there with an official ID and took photographs as a journalist,” said Vadim.
The court decided not to summon policemen-witnesses Simonchik and Kushner. Judge Zhivitsa read out their interrogation reports, which duplicate each other, and the report on an administrative offense. She also watched with the video of the detention, evidence requested by the defence.
“The report does not indicate exactly how I violated public order or participated in an unauthorised event,” noted Zamirovsky. The court found Vadim Zamirovsky guilty on both charges and sentenced him to 15 days of arrest (10 days for participating in an unsanctioned rally and five for disobedience).
Vsevolod Zarubin is also accused of “participating in an organised mass gathering of citizens to discuss socio-political sentiments,” and then “responded with a categorical refusal” to the demand to leave a certain place. Vsevolod did not admit his guilt.
During the trial, Vsevolod explained that he was fulfilling his professional duties at 2 Kozlova street. When he was detained, no one asked him to leave “a certain place,” and even more so he did not resist. According to Zarubin, he could not have been detained at 1.30 pm, as indicated in the report, since he was in a paddy wagon at that time.
“I was completely alone. A riot police officer came up to me and asked to show me an identity card that hung around my neck. I showed him, he read it, asked if BelaPAN had accreditation. I didn’t answer and the employee asked me to go with him,” he said.
Without interruption and without leaving for the deliberation room, Judge Zhivitsa ruled to find Vsevolod Zarubin guilty and to arrest him for 15 days (10 days for participating in a rally and five days for disobedience).