A journalist who has worked for Radio Free Europe, as a freelancer has been detained in Minsk, his wife said, amid an intensifying crackdown on independent media by the regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Andrey Kuznechyk went out for a bike ride on November 25, before returning shortly accompanied by four men garbed in civilian dress, Alesya Rak told Radio Free Europe.
The four, who did not present any identification, then searched their apartment, Rak said, only avoiding the rooms of their two young children.
“They took all the electronic equipment and Andrey’s phone; my mobile phone, my tablet, and money,” she added.
Kuznechyk was then led away by the group of four, who did not give any reason for his detention.
“Andrey was ordered to get dressed and to go with them. He was not allowed to take anything with him, only a spare pair of pants. They said that they were taking him away for a short while, for a couple of days,” Kuznechyk’s wife said.
Protests erupted in Belarus last year after Lukashenka, in power since 1994, was declared the winner of a presidential election that opponents and the West say was rigged.
The West has refused to recognize Lukashenka as the legitimate leader of Belarus. The Belarusian strongman is now reliant more than ever on Russia, which analysts say is using his weakened position to strengthen its hold over its smaller neighbor.
Tens of thousands of people were detained and human rights activists say more than 800 people are now in jail as political prisoners.
Independent media and opposition social media channels have been targeted as well.