On 21 March, the trial of political TV commentator Dzmitry Semchanka started at Minsk City Court. The well-known regime promoter and head of the presidential pool of journalists was accused of "incitement of social hatred" by means of derogatory comments in Telegram groups. The maximum penalty under this article is up to five years in prison
Dzmitry Semchanka and his wife Yulia, also a certified journalist, were originally arrested on 15 September 2022 for "sharing content of extremist Telegram channels." Since the family is raising a minor son, the mother got off with an administrative fine, and Dzmitry was detained for 15 days for "disorderly conduct."
Semchanka was not released on time, and new reports was drawn up against him, so he spent over 40 days in detention, only to be charged later with a criminal case. Human rights activists declared him a political prisoner.
Dzmitry Semchanka worked as a special correspondent and political observer at the All-National TV in 2009-2020. For all his merits he was trusted to lead the "presidential pool" of Aliaksandr Lukashenka's closest media entourage.
However, in August 2020 he publicly condemned the unprecedented brutality of the law enforcers and left the TV channel in protest. In September 2020, his house was raided and he was detained for 15 days for participating in protests.
Dzmitry Semchanka remained unemployed for some time, and in November 2020 he was invited to work as a PR manager at Belagra, a company that trades Belarusian agricultural machinery and spare parts.
Last year, on September 29, law enforcement officers came to Belagra and arrested two dozen staff members, including the management. As a consequence, they were held administratively or criminally responsible for participation in protests and following "destructive" Internet resources.