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Love behind bars: dozens of Belarusian families in jail “over politics”

06.01.2023 Source: Белсат

There are at least 1,452 political prisoners in Belarus today, and this number is growing every day. Whole families often find themselves behind bars. Below, you will find stories of imprisoned journalists whose partners ended up in jail, too.

Daria and Ihar Losik

Ihar Losik, a journalist for RFE/RL Belarus and administrator of a popular protest Telegram channel, was detained on 25 June 2020, even before the presidential elections and mass protests started in Belarus. He met his wife Daria in 2009 on social media. They married as students and have a young daughter, Paulina.

When accused of preparing to participate in mass riots, Ihar Losik went on a 42-day hunger strike in protest.

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Daria joined the strike in solidarity with her husband. On 14 December 2021, Ihar Losik was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment. Six months later, the KGB put him on the list of persons involved in terrorist activities and the family’s property was sequestered.

All this time Daria fought for her husband, promoted his story in various mass media, and even publicly challenged Lukashenka to organize a conversation with her. The woman was detained on 18 October 2022 when she and her 4-year-old daughter were still asleep in their home. According to pro-regime Telegram channels, Daria is accused of aiding extremist activities by giving an interview to the Belsat TV channel in the spring of 2022.

Iryna Zlobina and Andrei Aliaksandrau

Andrei Aliaksandrau is a well-known Belarusian journalist and media manager. Iryna Zlobina had been running her small business – the production of flowers and souvenirs. They were detained on 12 January 2021 by the Ministry of Interior on charges of financing protest actions, in particular for paying fines imposed on protesters. Aliaksandrau was additionally charged with high treason and participation in an extremist formation (BelaPAN media agency). On 1 September 2022, Iryna and Andrei got married in a pre-trial detention facility.

The trial in the “BelaPAN case” started on 6 June 2022 and lasted for four months. On 6 October Minsk Regional Court announced the verdict: Andrei was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment, Iryna – to 9 years of imprisonment.

Sniazhana Inanets and Aliaksandr Lychauka

Aliaksandr Lychauka is a local historian and journalist from Minsk. Sniazhana Inanets is a journalist who previously worked with TUT.by and Onliner.by media outlets. She authored texts on local history and cultural topics. On 6 October 2022, the couple was detained; the next day their “repentant” video was posted on a pro-regime Telegram channel. The video said that they had been detained for following Telegram channels declared extremist by the Belarusian authorities, as well as for participating in protest marches in 2020.

Palina Palavinka and Dzmitry Luksha

Dzmitry Luksha is a journalist who used to work for the National State TV and Radio Company of the Republic of Belarus and hosted Zone X show. He was detained after a search of his apartment in Minsk on 11 March 2022. At that time, Dzmitry was a freelance correspondent of the Kazakh TV channel Khabar 24, and the reason for his detention was his last coverage on the channel. His wife Palina Palavinka was arrested later – on 2 June 2022.

According to the indictment, Luksha, with the help of a cameraman, shot a series of videos containing false information intending to discredit Belarus. On 2 December, he was sentenced to four years of imprisonment. Palina got 2.5 years in prison.