Today is the day of the trial of Belsat journalists Katerina Andreeva and Darya Chultsova. Last November they were reporting live from the memorial of Roman Bondarenko — a young man beaten to death by unknown people. That day protesters and mourners gathered in Changes Square in Minsk, soon they were brutally dispersed by riot police, journalists of various media agencies were detained. Later they were accused of “inducing mass disorder.”
The Media Freedom Coalition expresses its deep concern about continued attacks on media freedom and the targeting of independent journalists in Belarus. Media freedom is an important part of democratic societies and essential to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Belarus: Prosecution of journalists for “organising violations of public order” infringes international human rights standards
ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned about the criminal charges pursued in Belarus against Belsat TV journalists Ekaterina Bakhvalova and Daria Chultsova. Both journalists were covering the peaceful protests taking place on 15 November 2020 that demanded a change of the ruling government and of the president, and accountability for the tortures and killings of protesters like Roman Bondarenka. Journalists are now facing criminal charges for organising actions that grossly violate public order, and active participation in them. ARTICLE 19 argues that journalists are simply prosecuted for carrying out their role – gathering and sharing important information about protests and ensuring accountability of public bodies for their actions. We call on the Belarusian courts to immediately and unconditionally drop these charges and refrain from bringing similar charges in the future.
The Minsk Leninski Borough Court has postponed the hearing in the case of journalist Nadzeya Kalinina of TUT.by. The woman was released, as three days had passed since her detention, BAJ reports.
The case will be heard by Frunzenski District Court of Minsk.
On Friday, 29 January, TUT.BY journalist Nadezhda Kalinina was detained. The reason for her detention remains unclear. She was reportedly taken to a notorious detention centre on Okrestin Street in Minsk. In the afternoon, Nadezhda Kalinina stopped answering her hone. She tried to visit the Belarusian People’s Congress which started at 4 pm in the Kamvol recreation centre. It was later revealed that the journalist is in the Leninsky district police department.
Police are searching the office of Hrodna.life and to the home of NewGrodno.by editor Ihar Remzik (Bublikau).
A number of trials against journalists will be carried out under article 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Violations.