Representative Of Belsat TV Channel Detained In Belarus

Iryna Slavnikova, a representative of the Belsat TV channel, has been detained at Minsk airport together with her husband, Belsat deputy director Alyaksei Dzikavitski said on his Facebook page on October 30.

Slavnikova, who is also the deputy chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, and her husband, Alyaksandr Loiko, were detained late on October 29 as they were returning from Egypt, Dzikavitski said.

He added that border guards and customs officers told Irina's father, who had come to meet her at the airport, that no one had been detained.

Slavnikova's whereabouts are unknown and her phone has been switched off, Dziavitski said.

Polish-funded Belsat television channel was declared “extremist” by the Belarusian authorities in July and had its website and all social media accounts blocked in Belarus amid an intensifying crackdown on media and civil society.

Belsat is a popular news source for Belarusians that closely follows opposition to strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Belsat extensively covered mass protests against Lukashenka following last year's presidential election which Lukashenka claimed to have won by a landslide. The opposition and West say the election was won by opposition candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

The protests were met with the heavy-handed detention of tens of thousands of people, much off the opposition leadership being jailed or forced into exile, and the country’s international isolation.

Belarusian authorities have also ramped up their campaign against media and civil society, with hundreds of raids of offices and apartments of activists and journalists.

Dozens of journalists were detained and sentenced to jail sentences, including two female journalists from Belsat, Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova, who were sentenced to two years in prison in February for their reporting of protests.