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Posted: 8/8/2005 2:33:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/8/2005 2:34:29 PM EDT by Penguin_101]
So on a International, but very US leaning, photography forum I ran across this: Quote is from Minsk, Belarus (former USSR)


I was shooting some street today in Minsk city centre. After roaming around for a while, I found a promising place with an interesting sign on the wall, and set to wait for a suitable pedestrian to complete the form for a shot. It was a busy corner, so chances were good that the opportunity would arise.

In about 20 minutes, a police patrol have approached me; they were two OMON officers who usually are getting involved during protests or riots. They asked me what am I doing here. I honestly told that am waiting for a suitable photographic situation to build up. Then, the conversation went like this:

"- You are not allowed to shoot here"
"- Well, actually I am allowed to, being in a public place with no prohibitive signs"
"- Your papers, citizen"
"- Sorry, have none" (my bad, but by the law I am not actually required to have an ID on me)
"- Show us the contents of your bag"

I complied, showing them a tube of toothpaste, exposure meter, my set of lenses, unbrella and a Norwegian-Russian dictionary. They examined the dictionary to ensure it is not a piece of opposition literature (fortunately I took out the bag a poltical review magazine I was about to read, just before going out), then asked me whether I'm a press or just an individual.

"-Just a photography amateur"
"-You know it is prohibited to shoot here"
"-It is not"
"-OK. We are detaining you for identification"

So they escorted me to the nearest police station. I asked what is wrong with photographing in that place, they replied that I could be contemplating a photograph containing anti-state propaganda. "But you have nothing to be afraid of if you weren't doing anything bad, it is just a check"

I was the only visitor at the station, and the idling policemen around have started to speculate what I could be doing there. One of the officers who detained me has queried my name, date/place of birth, residential address, registration address and place of work. He matched it against their database while his partner was gazing at me, then let me go, with suggestion to return home.

I went out virtually shaking; once calmed down I returned to the exact same spot and continued my business. In another half an hour the same patrol has appeared, we've exchanged looks but they did nothing.

However my mood was totally ruined, and I did not produce any more shots. I find it ironic that although I've done my share of protest photography, I was challenged for virtually no reason at all.

Am learning to hate this place. It isn't exactly news that Belarus is a police state, but the moments like this render that understanding sharply, through one's fear and cold sweat on the back.



Funny replies:

Quote by Roger Hicks, Aquitaine

Dear Eugene,

I am sure you have the full support of any sane person here.

And remember: it can happen anywhere, especially the UK.

Best of luck



Quote by SolaresLarrave, DeKalb, IL, USA

Eugene... I'm glad you came back. In my experience, you never argue with policemen. No matter how right you are, they have guns, power and the know-how to use them.

I sympathize with you about loathing places that can be that unfriendly... But then, in the future, just don't return there.



First off, the first 'paragraph' is just funny. The second is just smart- if you have a problem there, don't go back. I mean, unless you have better firepower. - Note, this is not in the US, but in the former USSR, so it does not mean to overthrough the government, and I do not recommend it since it was a joke.

All quotes from www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9649&page=1&pp=20
Link Posted: 8/8/2005 4:11:23 PM EDT
btt
Link Posted: 8/8/2005 6:51:36 PM EDT
I figured out that the USA was better after visiting Canada.
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