Representative of Polish-funded TV said to be arrested in Minsk

Iryna Slaunikava, a representative of the Belarusian Belsat television funded by the Polish government, has been arrested at the Minsk airport, human rights activists have reported.

Slaunikava was returning from Egypt and her plane did land in Minsk, but her and her husband's phones are not answering.

The regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has declared Belsat television, its website and social network accounts "extremist" outlets.

Two Belsat reporters have been imprisoned for two years for real-time reporting on a protest commemorating a Belarusian activist, Raman Bandarenka, who was allegedly beaten to death by Belarusian security forces.

Since 2007, Poland has sponsored the Belsat television channel, broadcasting in Belarusian and Russian to Belarus via satellite. The website and the social media accounts are part of the project.

Since August 2020, Belarus has been gripped by mass protests against the Alexander Lukashenko regime, with hundreds of his opponents detained and many exiled. Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 25 years, claims to have won a presidential election in the summer of 2020, but his critics and the West say the vote was rigged.

The Polish minority in Belarus has also been targeted by Lukashenko, with several top activists arrested and accused of promoting Nazism.