Minsk police raid offices of independent Tut.by portal, news agency BelaPAN – media
Searches are ongoing on several floors of the Omega Tower business center where TUT.BY portal is headquartered.
"For the first twenty years of its existence, a search is being conducted at tut.by. I have been not aware of any details yet. The staff are being prevented from entering the office. Maryna Zolatava [editor-in-chief] might be interrogated now. My husband is trying to find out what is going on," Yuliya Charnyauskaya, the wife of Yury Zisser, a founder of tyt.by, said on Facebook, belsat.eu wrote.
Law enforcement officers are seizing documents, several employees of the portal have been summoned for questioning. According to preliminary information, the search warrant says that unauthorized access to the website of the state news agency BelTA took place from the TUT.BY office.
The police have also come to the office of BelaPAN news agency with a search warrant, a representative of the company confirmed to belsat.eu.
It should be recalled that the home of Ales Lipai, the founder and director general of independent news agency BelaPAN, was raided by the finance police in June. Lipai was suspected of tax evasion. It is the Financial Investigations Department (part of the State Control Committee) that opened the criminal case against chairman of the Human Rights Centre Viasna Ales Byalyatski in 2011. After the seven-hour search, Lipai was taken for questioning and then released.
The Belarusian Investigative Committee says a criminal case was initiated under the article 'unauthorized access to computer information, made out of personal interest, which caused significant harm'. According to the investigators, state-run news agency BelTA reported abuse access to their paid subscription.
"During the inspection the Ministry of Interior identified numerous cases of illegal access to information, the owner of which is BelTA,", they stated.
A number of companies had illegal access to BelTA's 'premium content' during the period of 2017-2018, which 'has caused substantial financial damage' to the state-controlled agency.
The official website of the Investigative Committee gives the names of employees of tut.by, BelaPAN and Belarusian Science publishing house who they state are involved in illegal activities.
TUT.BY editor-in-chief Maryna Zolatava and editor Hanna Kaltyhina, and Tatsyana Karavenkava of BelaPAN have been detained.
According to unconfirmed information, Ulyana Babayed (tut.by) is also being questioned.