Updated at 11:43,21-10-2020

BelaPAN cameraman detained by police for filming interview with extras involved in government-funded movie


A BelaPAN cameraman was briefly detained by police late on February 1 for filming an interview with extras involved in the shooting of scenes of anti-government protests for what is widely described as a propaganda movie.

Vasil Syamashka was ordered by athletic men in plain clothes to delete the video clip from his camera and not to restore or publish it before he was let go.

Mr. Syamashka recorded the interview after a crowd of some 4,000 extras, mostly university students, acted out an anti-government march along Independence Avenue. In the scene the extras made much noise but did not chant any slogans.

An unknown person joined the crowd at some point, chanting "Zhyve Belarus!" (Long live Belarus!) for some two minutes. He was reportedly apprehended by plainclothesmen after the scene was filmed.

There was a heavy presence of traffic police officers in uniform and plainclothesmen in the area during the filming of the scene.

In a curious incident on Saturday, a minibus belonging to the film crew caught fire and exploded near the House of Government in Independence Square. Firefighters and ambulance crews rushed to the scene. No people suffered injuries in the incident. Eyewitnesses said that the fire and explosion had not been part of scenes filmed by the crew and had become a surprise for them.

In 2013, Syarhey Zhdanovich, head of film production company Nonstop Media, acknowledged that the culture ministry had provided 20 billion rubels ($2.2 million) for the making of Avel (Abel), a story of two brothers' reunion that spans decades and includes scenes in present-day Belarus.

Screenwriter Andrey Kureychyk said in September last year that the movie would be a piece of propaganda defending the crackdown on Alyaksandr Lukashenka's political opponents in December 2010.\