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  • EFJ and BAJ demand the release of Sergei Satsuk, sentenced to 8 years in prison

    A court in Minsk sentenced investigative journalist Sergei Satsuk to eight years in prison on Wednesday. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its affiliate the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) denounce this illegitimate conviction and demand his immediate release.

    Judge Svi­at­lana Ban­daren­ka sen­tenced Sergei Sat­suk, the edi­tor of the Ezhed­nevnik news web­site, for alleged charges of “incit­ing hatred”, “offi­cial mis­con­duct” and “accept­ing bribes”.

    The 58-year-old was detained in Decem­ber 2021 after author­i­ties searched his home and office. He is the lat­est jour­nal­ist to be jailed in the author­i­tar­i­an coun­try, which has been ruled by Pres­i­dent Alexan­der Lukashenko since 1994.

    Satsuk’s col­leagues say he is being pun­ished for inves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion scan­dals that rocked the Belaru­sian health­care sys­tem, as well as for hav­ing pub­lished sto­ries about the fal­si­fi­ca­tion of Covid cas­es. When the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic struck Belarus, Lukashenko down­played the dan­gers of the virus and sug­gest­ed it was not real.

    “The Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists believes inves­ti­ga­tors and the court arbi­trar­i­ly pros­e­cut­ed Sat­suk in revenge for his high-pro­file inves­ti­ga­tions,” BAJ said on its web­site, call­ing for Satsuk’s release.

    “The con­vic­tions of jour­nal­ists in Belarus on false pre­texts are total­ly ille­git­i­mate, unfound­ed and just aimed at intim­i­dat­ing media pro­fes­sion­als and inde­pen­dent voic­es,” said EFJ Pres­i­dent Maja Sev­er. “We do not for­get the names of the author­i­ties and judges who apply indis­crim­i­nate repres­sion on our col­leagues”.

    The promi­nent Vias­na rights group, whose founder was co-award­ed the Nobel Peace Prize this year, has recog­nised Sat­suk as a polit­i­cal pris­on­er. It says there are cur­rent­ly 1,344 polit­i­cal pris­on­ers in Belarus.

    Lukashenko has orches­trat­ed a major crack­down on media and jour­nal­ists in Belarus after sup­press­ing unprece­dent­ed protests against his rule in 2020.

    Accord­ing to BAJ mon­i­tor­ing,32 jour­nal­ists and media rep­re­sen­ta­tives are cur­rent­ly in prison in Belarus, just for doing their job.

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