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Swiss journalist released after being detained in Belarus

According to human rights organisations, more than 2,000 people had been arrested in protests by Sunday afternoon. Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

A correspondent for Swiss public television SRF was released after being briefly arrested in the Belarus capital of Minsk amid anti-government protests in Russia.

This content was published on January 31, 2021 - 15:33
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SRF Russia correspondent, Luzia Tschirky, was in Belarus with a valid accreditation reporting on the anti-government protests that have erupted in various cities including Moscow and St. Petersburg. Over the past week, thousands of people have been taking part in protests to demand the release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny. According to media reports,  more than 2,000 people had been arrested by Sunday afternoon including Navalny's wife Yulia Navalnaya.

The circumstances of Tschirky's arrest were not immediately clear. However, Tschirky tweeted that she had been on her way to meet a friend for coffee on Sunday when a minibus stopped and men in masks had pulled her into the minibus.

Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis tweeted after the news of her release. "I am relieved and thank all those who worked for a speedy solution," wrote Cassis. According to a ministry spokesperson, Tschirky had been detained for three hours.

Last August, anti-government protests also broke out in Belarus following elections that opponents say were rigged. Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko launched a violent crackdown against the protests. He has remained in power with help from ally Russia.

Tschirky regularly posts on Twitter about scenes in Russia and the region. She had been reporting on the protests from in Russia from Belarus before her arrest. She tweeted that the Kremlin was adopting strategies from Lukashenko.

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