Belarus jails two TV journalists, A Belarus court has jailed two TV journalists
for two years on charges of fomenting protests, for filming a rally against the
Katerina Andreyeva, 27, and Daria Chultsova, 23, were arrested in a Minsk apartment
block in November while live-streaming an unauthorized protest.
Investigators in the Belsat case alleged that the TV journalists had encouraged disorder
that halted 13 bus services and also blocked trolleybus and tram lines.
Belsat reports that the transport routes specified did not include the square where
the journalists were filming.
In August 2020, mass protests took place across Belarus after Alexander Lukashenko
who has been in power since 2004 claimed victory in the presidential election
although reports say it was widely rigged.
Prosecutors say the journalists disrupted bus services in the Belarusian capital by
broadcasting footage of the demonstration, allegations Belsat TV rejected.
On Wednesday, a former banker Viktor Babaryko, seen as Lukashenko’s main rival was
tried in court.
He has been in custody since last June and is accused of taking bribes and money-
laundering when he was head of Belgazprombank – charges that can bring up to 15 years
in jail. Babaryko, 57, has denied charges saying the case was fabricated to block him
from standing against Lukashenko in the election.
After the August election, the Belarus opposition organized huge rallies every Sunday,
usually with more than 100,000 people thronging the streets of Minsk.
Belarus police cracked down harshly on the protestors and thousands were arrested
and many were beaten up.
In a court statement quoted by Belsat Ms Andreyeva denied the “incitement” charge.
She said the crowd had gathered at the square already before her filming and protesters
could not have watched the live stream anyway because the authorities were blocking
the web access to it in Minsk.
“I’m totally innocent of the crime I’m accused of. I regard this prosecution as politically
motivated, a fabricated case from start to finish,” she said. “It’s a primitive act of secret
service retribution for my professional work.”
In a written statement quoted by Belsat, Ms. Chultsova said “I didn’t incite anyone, didn’t
organize, didn’t urge anyone to commit any acts”. They now face jail time of two years.