Photojournalist Alexander Astafiev (Александр Астафьев) arrested in Belarus, needs letters of support.

Alexander Astafiev (Александр Астафьев), photo correspondent for Saint Petersburg newspaper “Мой район” (“My Region,” or “My Neighborhood”) and professor in the photography department at a Petersburg university, was arrested Dec. 19, 2010, in Minsk, Belarus, while covering clashes surrounding the country’s current elections ( has a gallery of photos from the elections, though none by Astafiev). 700 people have been arrested. The interior ministry has not given any details about Astafiev’s arrest, not even confirming that he has been arrested, and he has not been given access to Russian diplomats. More information, in Russian, is available at Ekho Moskvy and TV100. A plea has gone out on livejournal (which is big in Russia) for letters of support sent to the Belarussian Interior Ministry ( and Belarus’ embassy in Moscow ( The suggested text of the letter, in Russian, is:

Уважаемые господа,

19-го декабря в Минске во время массовых протестов оппозиции был задержан фотокорреспондент санкт-петербургской газеты “Мой район” и преподаватель Факультета фотокорреспондентов имени Гальперина Александр Астафьев. С момента задержания нет никакой официальной информации о деле Александра. Я, [your name], крайне обеспокоен задержанием российского журналиста и преподавателя в связи с чем настоятельно прошу:
1. предоставить исчерпывающую информацию о деле журналиста Александра Астафьева
2. немедленно предоставить Александру возможность встречи с работниками Посольства Российской Федерации в Республике Беларусь.

С уважением,
[your name]

Roughly translated, the letter reads, in English:

Dear Sirs,

On December 19 in Minsk during the mass opposition protests, Alexander Astafiev, photographer for the St. Petersburg newspaper, “My area,” and a photography department lecturer, was detained. From the moment of detention, there is no official information about the case of Alexander Astafiev. I, [your name], am very concerned about the detention of this Russian journalist and teacher. In connection to these events, I urge you to:
1. Provide comprehensive information about the case of journalist Alexander Astafiev, and
2. Immediately provide the opportunity for Alexander Astafiev to meet with employees of the Russian Embassy in Belarus.

[your name]

I used to write letters frequently for Amnesty International, and know that international letters of support, even in your own language, can have a profound effect on achieving proper and legal treatment or even release of prisoners.

Spread the word.

(via Russian Reporter magazine on Facebook)

2 Responses to “Photojournalist Alexander Astafiev (Александр Астафьев) arrested in Belarus, needs letters of support.”

  1. Michael J Metts

    I hope he is freed soon.

    I am writing the e-mail now. Any suggestions for a subject line? Since the letter is Russian I was thinking I should make the subject Russian as well.

Comments are closed.