Authorities reject request for release of prominent journalist Andrej Skurko

03.09.2021 Source: By BelaPAN

The Investigative Committee of Belarus has turned down a request for the release of Andrej Skurko, a prominent journalist and the head of the online publication Naša Niva’s advertising and marketing department, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

In their request, Mr. Skurko’s elderly parents noted that they had been left without help after their son’s arrest.

They also said that their son had insulin dependent diabetes and that jail conditions and the lack of a special diet were “ruining his health.”

In addition, Mr. Skurko has an 18-month-old son.

In its reply, the Investigative Committee said that there were sufficient grounds to believe that Mr. Skurko might hide from prosecution and hinder the investigation of the criminal case against him, “including by unlawfully influencing people involved in the criminal process, concealing or falsifying information relevant to the case, failing to present himself for no good reason at the request of the body in charge of the criminal process.”

Earlier, the Investigative Committee turned down a request for the release of Naša Niva Editor in Chief Jahor Marcinovič, although “two renowned Belarusian scholars” had vouched for him.

As Naša Niva reported, the Investigative Committee gave no explanation for its decision.

Messrs. Skurko and Marcinovič were arrested in Minsk on July 8. They were said to be suspects in a criminal case under Part One of the Criminal Code’s Article 342, which penalizes “organizing or taking an active part in group actions grossly disturbing public order.”

The two men were not formally charged within the first 10 days of their detention. Instead, they were formally rearrested and put in custody as suspects in proceedings under a different Criminal Code article.

Naša Niva was accused of causing damage in the amount of 3,500 rubels (some $1,400) to the energy ministry by paying utility bills for its office at rates charged for individuals, not legal entities, in the period from 2017 to 2021.

Messrs. Skurko and Marcinovič remain in custody as persons accused in the case.

They have been declared political prisoners by Belarusian human rights groups.

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