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Interview with Belarusian journalist Aliaksandr Alesin

It's been a month since the military affairs analyst Aliaksandr Alesin was released on recognizance from KGB detention. The Belarusian Association of Journalists' press service interviewed the journalist about developments in the case.

Aliaksandr Alesin/BAJ

This statement was originally published on baj.by on 9 January 2015.

How is your case going? Are there any investigative actions?

Yes, formally. I periodically go to questionings, and the questions are all the same. I am questioned about some details that have already been explained. It's becoming more rare. It seems they already would be happy to close the case somehow. It gained an unexpected public outcry in the West and in Russia, as I have many correspondents in different countries.

I don't know at all what they wanted to get. Any examination will show that my materials are based on open sources, so this is fruitless. I think they are looking for a possibility now to soften the case.

My lawyer is a very accurate man and advises on certain actions to improve my situation. For instance, the charges were changed which made my release possible under recognizance not to leave the country. Lawyers hope that, bearing in mind [my] age and health condition and the fact that I have not done any harm, the charges might be dismissed with some time.

Any journalist might fear [getting] in a situation as such. Is there a way to [secure oneself] against [such a situation], and is it worth securing at all?

I think it is impossible to get secured at all. I have worked on military issues for around 20 years. Thanks to critical articles, I have quite a lot of “friends” in a number of agencies – like the Defense Ministry, at military industries, and I suppose they don't feel favorable towards me. They don't want to make information public even when it is legal...

But, in principle, none can be secured against such things. It might be the case with some international relations, in policies of a certain agency pursuing its own interests etc. Correspondents who I work with also might be inaccurate or loose and unwillingly put one's partner at risk. As I not only write publications, I make surveys, informational notes, references and the like for a number of international organizations.

I think it is hard to forecast [what] you will get into and for what.

With the Belarusian special services being so tight-lipped, it is hard to tell about effectiveness of certain actions. What would be more correct in such situation – to keep silent, so as not to do harm, or to turn on the alarm?

I consider actions of my colleagues, especially of the chief editor (Viachalsau Khadasouski, Belorusy I Rynok newspaper) very correct and deliberated. He in fact [did] a lot for my defence and held a weighed strategy thanks to which my situation has become mitigated. My relatives were in a hard condition, because after my detention they were recommended not to spread information…

I am thankful to colleagues who published it in due time because it was absolutely relevant. In all, I think everyone did their best and nobody did any harm. I say thanks to all journalists in Belarus and abroad who supported me. I am sure it all had its consequences.

We remind that Aliaksandr Alesin, a journalist for Belorusy I Rynok and military affairs analyst, was detained on November 25.

Information about the detention and the place of detention became known to the public only at the beginning of December.

On December 8, his relatives announced that he had been accused of treason (article 356 of the Criminal Code) and cooperation with special services or investigative bodies of another state (article 356.1). It was also reported that he was not the main suspect, the main person under consideration was a foreign diplomat. On December 10 the journalist was released under recognizance not to leave the country. He said that the charges of treason had been dropped; currently he is accused of cooperation with foreign special services. He keeps writing for the same outlets as usual.

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