MOSCOW, August 9. /TASS/. Journalists of the Russian television channel Dozhd were detained in Minsk because they had no accreditation, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Sunday.
"The reason for what has happened, or what was behind these actions, is clear now - they had no accreditation. Accreditation was required but they none," she said in an interview with Dozhd TV.
Dozhd said earlier on Sunday that its correspondents Vladimir Romensky and Vasily Polonsky, and cameraman Nikola Antipov had been detained in Minsk by people in civilian clothes.
According to a representative of the headquarters of unregistered candidate Viktor Babariko, the ally of candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya Maria Kolestinova, the journalists were detained after they had spoken with her in the street.
Russia Ambassador to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev has taken the situation around the detention of Dozhd TV journalists under personal control, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
"Our embassy is taking efforts to resolve the situation with your television channel journalists," she said in an interview with Dozhd TV. "Our diplomats in Belarus are in touch with the Belarus relevant agencies, including with the foreign ministry."
"I have just spoken with Dmitry Mezentsev, our ambassador, who has outlined the situation. He said he was keeping it under control," she said.
According to Zakharova, consular support is being provided to the journalists.
She said that, according to the Russian embassy, the journalists are being kept at the Minsk district police office. "The journalists’ whereabouts have been established. They are all right, <…> they are in touch. <…> They are kept at the Minsk district police office," she added.
Dozhd TV editor-in-chief Tikhon Dzyadko said earlier that the channel’s cameraman was being kept at the Belarusian interior ministry’s organized crime and corruption directorate in Minsk. He also told TASS the television channel had applied for accreditation back on June 15 and its correspondents were working in Minsk pending its confirmation.
Belarus’ interior ministry has been unavailable for comment.
On Sunday, Belarus is holding its sixth presidential election since declaring independence in 1991. The incumbent head of state, Alexander Lukashenko, 65, is seeking his sixth term in office. Other candidates are co-leader of the Govori Pravdu (Tell the Truth) public movement Andrei Dmitriyev, former member of the lower parliament house Anna Kanopatskaya, housewife Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, and leader of the Belarusian Social Democratic Gramada Sergei Cherchen.