August 10, 2022

Westside People

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The journalist was sentenced to eight years in prison in Belarus

A Belarusian court on Wednesday sentenced journalist Kateryna Bakvalova to eight years and three months in prison for “treason,” state agency Belda reported.

Earlier, Belchat, the opposition media outlet he worked for before his arrest, reported the eight-year prison sentence. The young woman was already serving two years in jail in another case.

His trial took place behind closed doors in Gomal (South). No information was filtered about the content of the sedition charges. The journalist’s lawyer had to sign a non-disclosure agreement not to disclose information to his client’s relatives.

Belda did not provide any details on the facts against which the journalist was accused.

An article of his criminal code punishes passing state secrets to foreign actors, espionage or collaboration with foreign organizations aimed at undermining the security of Belarus.

The 28-year-old used Andreeva as her pen name in her work.

He was arrested in mid-November 2020 amid a historic protest movement in Belarus against the perceived fraudulent re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Police arrested her while filming a rally in Minsk in tribute to artist Roman Bondarenko, who died in police custody three days earlier.

He was accused of organizing riots, and in February 2021 one of his journalist colleagues, Daria Sultsova, was sentenced to two years in prison.

Both women worked for Belchat, an opposition media outlet in neighboring Poland. In July 2021, Belchat was declared an “extremist” by a Belarusian judge.

“It angers me to see how the regime retaliates against those who dare to protest,” exiled opposition figure Svetlana Tikanovskaya responded on Twitter. She felt Katerina Bakvalova was being punished for “showing the world the truth about the brutality” of the authorities.

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Alexander Lukashenko’s regime, since ruling in 1994 and supported by the Kremlin, has shamelessly suppressed the 2020 protest movement, sentencing dozens of opponents and journalists to harsh prison terms.

According to the NGO Vyasna, 1,244 people are currently imprisoned in Belarus for political reasons, targets of repression.