Journalist Sacuk facing charge of receiving bribe

Siarhiej Sacuk is suspected of receiving a bribe, the prominent investigative journalist’s wife told BelaPAN.

“He is now being taken to the detention center on Akrescina Street,” Žanna Sacuk told BelaPAN on Wednesday night after talking to a lawyer who attended her husband’s interrogation following his arrest earlier that day. “He will be there until Friday and on Friday they will decide whether to charge or release him.”

The journalist’s family planned to hire a lawyer for him, because the one provided by the state “is not very friendly” and “is not even on his side,” said the woman. “The lawyer said that he was guilty and that his crime was as clear as day,” she said. “There is a feeling that he is not interested in defending him.”

The chief editor of the Yezhednevnik online publication was apprehended by officers of the State Control Committee’s Department for Financial Investigations.

His brother later suggested that the arrest may be linked to an allegation that was made against him in a news show on the Belarus One television channel in August 2019. “They said back then that he had accepted money in exchange for writing an article on medical equipment purchases by the health ministry,” said Aliaksandr Sacuk.

The segment of the channel’s August 22, 2019 Panarama news show featured an interview with businessman Viktar Miadviedski who claimed that he had paid $3,000 to Mr. Sacuk for investigating a corruption scheme involving purchases of medical goods by health establishments from a private company.

Mr. Sacuk denied the allegation. “I was offered financial support to cover the cost of my investigation,” he told BelaPAN last August. “I told that person that we will not and may not accept any payments in connection with this story.”

The journalist added that he had received death threats over his work to expose corruption schemes, including in the health sector.