On the morning of August 18, law enforcement officers of Belarus came with searches to the chief editor of the news agency “BelaPAN” Irina Levshina, her deputy Alexander Zaitsev, journalists Zakhar Shcherbakov, Irina Turchina and accountant Yekaterina Boeva. The search was carried out at the former director of “BelaPAN” Dmitry Novozhilov. Later Investigative Committee statedthat Novozhilov, Boeva and Levshina were detained on suspicion of organizing and actively participating in actions that grossly violate public order (part 1 of article 342 of the Criminal Code).
The server that hosts the website belapan.by was seized at Beltelecom. The site is now down. The editorial server was also removed from the BelaPAN office, informs Telegram channel “Belarus of the Brain”.
Levshina, Boeva and Novozhilov are kept in an isolation ward on Boris Akrestin Street. Shcherbakov and Turchina were released on a non-disclosure agreement.
Law enforcement agencies have started a tax audit of the news agency with the aim of “determining the amount of unpaid taxes.” A criminal case under Art. 243 (tax evasion, fees) of the Criminal Code of Belarus.
BelaPAN is an independent private news agency of Belarus, founded in November 1991. The authorities have repeatedly carried out numerous checks and searches at the addresses of his employees, and initiated criminal cases. So, in June 2018, a case was initiated against one of the founders of the agency, Ales Lipai, notes Radio Liberty. He was persecuted for tax evasion. Colleagues regarded the accusation as related to the journalist’s professional activities.