Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova, 27 and 23, were arrested in November in an apartment from which they had filmed protests over the death of a protester.
Two Belarusian journalists from Belsat, the Polish satellite television channel broadcasting to Belarus, have been sentenced to two years in prison each for reporting live from a demonstration in Minsk last November. His crime: filming the protests. Katsiaryna Andreyeva, 27; and Darya Chultsova, 23, were arrested in November in an apartment from which they had been filming the protests that took place over the death of a protester days earlier, Raman Bandarenka.
As material evidence, the prosecution presented a video camera, a microphone, mobile phones, USB sticks, and press vests. According to the investigation, journalists from Belsat rounded up the protesters with their broadcasts, and this caused a cut in public transport service in Minsk. Both women pleaded not guilty after being accused of orchestrating the demonstrations by filming them, noting that the accusations were politically motivated. But today Judge Natalya Buhuk (from the Frunze district court in the Belarusian capital) convicted Andreyeva and Chultsova after finding them guilty of “organizing public events intended to disturb public order.” Belarusian human rights organizations have presented Andreyeva and Chultsova as political prisoners and have demanded their immediate release and the withdrawal of all charges against them. More than 33,000 people have been arrested in a violent crackdown on anti-government protests.
Bandarenka, the activist for the demonstration that led both journalists to prison, died of injuries sustained in a brutal beating by a group of masked assailants, who according to human rights activists, were linked to the authorities of the country. It happened during one of the weekly demonstrations demanding the resignation of the country’s president, Alexander Lukashenko. The European Union, the United States, Canada, and other countries have refused to recognize Lukashenko, in power since 1994, as the legitimate leader of Belarus, denouncing the “falsification” of the vote. Since then, several protesters have been killed and various human rights organizations say there is credible evidence that security agents are using torture against some of the detainees. In her latest statement, Andreyeva demanded the “immediate release” of “all political prisoners in Belarus.
HARASSMENT OF THE MEDIA AND NGO
On Tuesday, the leaders of the Belarusian Journalists Association, Andrei Bastunets, and Boris Goretski denounced that the security forces entered their office to carry out searches.
The NGO Vesna also reported through Telegram the records both in its office in the Minsk office and in regional delegations. Also, he confirmed that there were also searches of several journalists and human rights defenders. Diplomats from the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland condemned these searches of journalists and activists.