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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belarus Border Guards Detain Another ORT Television Crew

MINSK, Belarus -- Border guards detained another crew from a Russian television station Friday, an action certain to bring down more criticism on Belarus' authoritarian president.


The four-man crew was filming in the same region where Pavel Sheremet was arrested July 26 on charges he crossed the Belarussian-Lithuanian border illegally while filming a report on the poorly guarded frontier. He remains in prison.


The arrest of Sheremet, a Belarussian correspondent for Russia's ORT television, drew harsh criticism from Russia and other countries. Friday's detentions were expected to do the same.


Four men -- a correspondent, cameraman and driver for ORT, who are Russian citizens, and a Belarussian cameraman -- were detained Friday afternoon in the same region as Sheremet, the border guards said.


An ORT spokeswoman in Moscow, Alla Uleryanov, confirmed that the ORT crew was sent to Belarus. Their assignment was to film a report on Sheremet, but they were not supposed to go to the border, she said.


The president, who has been cracking down on news reporters in recent months, defended Friday's detentions.


"What can be said? Why are you creeping up on to the border? What are you four doing there?'' Interfax quoted Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko as saying.


There was no immediate word on how long the journalists would be held.


Meanwhile, Sheremet's lawyer convinced him Thursday to end his one-day-old hunger strike because of health conditions.


In return, prison officials promised to provide Pavel Sheremet with medical treatment, and also to put a television in his cell and supply him with fresh newspapers.