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Journalist Iryna Slaunikava celebrates second birthday behind bars

13.07.2023 Source: BAJ

Iryna Slaunikava, who was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly "creating an extremist formation," turned 53 on July 12.

The journalist and her husband Aliaksandr Loika were detained at the end of October 2021 at the national airport as they returned from a vacation. Aliaksandr was released after 45 days, while Iryna was charged with several crimes related to her journalistic work at the Belsat TV channel. On 3 August 2022, she was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for organizing and preparing actions that seriously violated public order and participation in an extremist formation.

Iryna Slaunikava reported changes in her eyesight in prison, which she attributed to the poor lighting in the pre-trial detention center where she was held. The workload in the sewing shop of Homel Women's Prison aggravates the situation. According to Iryna's husband, convicted women work in prison as virtually free seamstresses. They have almost no free time because of their work.

Forced to leave Belarus under threat of prosecution, Aliaksandr Loika is now trying to organize a negotiation process for the release of hostages held by the current regime. The main obstacle so far is the fact that the Belarusian authorities themselves refuse to "negotiate about political prisoners" and clearly "overprice" them.