Updated at 13:22,17-06-2024

Journalist Natallya Radzina flees abroad


Natallya Radzina, editor of opposition news site charter97.org, has fled abroad for fear of prosecution in a criminal case that was opened following the December 19, 2010 post-election protest in Minsk, the news site reported on Friday morning.

The 31-year-old Radzina told Charter 97 whose staff has recently moved to Lithuania that she was in a "safe place, out of reach of the Belarusian KGB."

The journalist’s father, Valyantsin Radzin, confirmed to BelaPAN that his daughter had left the country.

"An unknown person phoned us in the morning to say that she was abroad," the father said. "He didn’t say how she left the country or where she currently stays."

Ms. Radzina was arrested immediately after a police crackdown on the post-election demonstration in Minsk`s central Independence Square and placed in the KGB detention center. She was released on her own recognizance on January 28 and ordered not to leave the city of Kobryn, Brest region, where she is registered as a resident.

Ms. Radzina was ordered Wednesday to present herself at the KGB head office in Minsk on March 31, presumably for a formal charge of organizing "mass disorder" to be brought against her.

"The KGB investigator who phoned me this morning and ordered me to come to Minsk said that I was needed for `investigative activities` but didn`t elaborate," Ms. Radzina told BelaPAN on Wednesday. "That’s why I believe that a final charge will be brought against me and I’ll be allowed to study my case file."
According to Ms. Radzina, on March 27, a report broadcast by the STV television network misleadingly described her as one of the people charged with organizing "mass disorder."

On Thursday night, editors of the pro-opposition newspapers Narodnaya Volya and Nasha Niva were called in for questioning by the KGB in connection with Ms. Radzina’s disappearance.

When reached by BelaPAN, Maryna Koktysh, deputy editor in chief of Narodnaya Volya, said that the questioning had lasted 40 minutes. She said that she would not comment, as she had pledged in writing not to disclose details. "I hope that Natasha is fine. Her parents, defense lawyer and journalists are worried," Ms. Koktysh noted.

The questioning of Nasha Niva Editor-in-Chief Andrey Skurko lasted an hour. He also is not allowed to disclose any details.

Ms. Radzina was let out of the KGB jail, along with several other opposition figures, a few days before the EU Foreign Affairs Council’s January 31 meeting, at which a decision was made on sanctions against the Belarusian government over its post-election crackdown on opponents.

In mid-March, one more opposition figure charged in the criminal case in connection with the post-election protest, former presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich, left Belarus. The 35-year-old politician, who was held in the KGB detention center for two months, fled to the Czech Republic and was granted political asylum there a week later.