Report: Belarus Flies in Russian Crews to Take Over State Media

MINSK, BELARUS - AUGUST 16: President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, speaks at a pro-Lukashenko rally on August 16, 2020 in Minsk, Belarus. There have been daily demonstrations in the Belarusian capital and elsewhere in the country after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in the August 9th election that critics allege …
Misha Friedman/Getty Images

A director for a state TV news channel in Belarus claimed Wednesday that she and other striking workers were replaced by a Russian crew this week during the country’s ongoing anti-government protests.

Belarusian news source TUT.BY published a video Wednesday in which a woman identifies herself as Alena Martinovskaya, a director at state TV and radio channel Belarus 3. Martinovskaya tells a local reporter that she and her fellow newsroom coworkers were barred from resuming their jobs on Wednesday after participating in worker strikes over the past few days, alleging that the state-run company brought in Russian specialists to replace them.

“Today, my colleagues and I went to the work building around 9:00 a.m. There was an officer standing guard. He asked where I am going, and I said, ‘To work.’ He said, ‘Please show me your license’ and asked for my surname,” Martinovskaya says in the clip, translated and transcribed from Russian to English by Newsweek.

“Then he said, ‘You’re on the blacklist, and we cannot let you in.’ I asked, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Just because.’ Then the officer said, ‘Call your boss to confirm what’s going on,'” she continues.

Martinovskaya says she suspects that the “blacklist” includes the names of people like her who have either gone on strike or quit their jobs to protest the results of Belarus’s recent presidential election. The Belarus 3 director claims that Belarus’s government flew in Russian crews to take over for blacklisted journalists, according to the report.

“Two airplanes full of employees were flown in from Russia. They are taking over our responsibilities for a large sum of money,” Martinovskaya alleged.

On August 9, Alexander Lukashenko won his sixth consecutive term as president of Belarus, which he has ruled for the past 26 years as its first and only president. Dissidents said the Belarus Central Election Commission falsified the election results to hand Lukashenko a landslide victory and took to the streets to protest the vote. The protests have continued nationwide for the past 11 days and grown into a general anti-Lukashenko movement. The demonstrations have been met with excessive force by Belarus police, but have received support from the U.S. and the European Union (E.U.).

On Wednesday, the E.U. said it did not recognize the results of the August 9 presidential election as legitimate and announced that it would impose new sanctions on Belarus officials “responsible for violence, repression, and election fraud.”

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