‘You’re accused of orchestrating this’: CNN reporter presses Belarus FM on crisis

Sabrina Siddiqui says Evgenii Serebrennikov, journalist arrested on corruption charges, is state victim ‘You’re accused of orchestrating this’: CNN reporter presses Belarus FM on crisis A CNN reporter interviewing the foreign minister of Belarus…

'You're accused of orchestrating this': CNN reporter presses Belarus FM on crisis

Sabrina Siddiqui says Evgenii Serebrennikov, journalist arrested on corruption charges, is state victim

‘You’re accused of orchestrating this’: CNN reporter presses Belarus FM on crisis

A CNN reporter interviewing the foreign minister of Belarus asked her on Wednesday if the journalist, journalist and dissident Evgenii Serebrennikov was an “ally of the government” or an “architect of the situation” in the country.

“You are charged with corruption and false evasion of military service,” Maria Sushina (CNN’s acting bureau chief in Moscow) asked, adding, “But you’re an asset of the government.”

“That’s how you are described in the press. Do you agree with that?”

“These charges are simply unfounded. These are an absurd accusation,” the journalist and filmmaker replied.

Serebrennikov, director of the acclaimed film Turbulent Times, was arrested on fraud charges in December 2017 and put on trial in January 2018. It is a political prosecution with the state arguing the director is against Belarus’s Putin-backing president, Alexander Lukashenko.

Pressed on this point, Serebrennikov replied: “If I make films for the state that’s one thing … If I make films that are against the state, I’m considered an enemy of the state. This is the opinion of the ruling party.”

According to local news media Serebrennikov is also accused of preparing films against Lukashenko and aiding dissidents.

Sushina persisted: “But, why aren’t you an ally of the government? You’re an ally of the government … The country needs an international personality. I’m asking you why you’re not an ally of the government.”

Serebrennikov said he saw no relationship between the role he played and his opposition to Lukashenko’s regime.

“I have never taken orders from anyone,” Serebrennikov said. “I work very independently. I’m not able to speak with anyone. I do what I want to do.”

Sushina pressed further: “Is he [Lukashenko] the architect of the situation in Belarus, the quarterback of that situation?”

Serebrennikov said he thought it was not obvious to local media that Serebrennikov’s “enemies are in the opposition”.

“Do you think he’s an ally of the president?” she persisted.

Serebrennikov agreed that the government had recognised that he was someone “we need”.

“Sometimes a president and an artist are friends,” Serebrennikov said. “An artist should have free expression.”

Sushina pressed on: “But you do political work. Do you [the government] recognise it?”

Serebrennikov told her: “If I make a documentary that hurts their dignity I’m an enemy of the state.”

Sushina followed up: “Are you proud of that?”

Serebrennikov told her: “I am proud of my work as an artist.”

Sushina persisted: “The media say that the government is persecuting you. Do you deny that?”

Serebrennikov said he accepted that Serebrennikov had run afoul of authorities but wanted to focus on his work and felt let down by the government.

“I feel anger,” he said. “I am unaccepted here.”

Leave a Comment