Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is launching a new global action as part of its ongoing campaign for the release of jailed Belarusian journalist Maryna Zolatava. Supporters around the world are encouraged to send letters and cards in solidarity with Zolatava, to be delivered to the Belarusian embassies in several countries on 6 November, Zolatava’s 46th birthday.
Starting on 6 September, physical cards and letters with messages of solidarity with Maryna Zolatava will be collected at RSF’s Paris headquarters, as well as RSF’s country offices in Austria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US. The mailing addresses can be found below. Alternatively, supporters can also send online messages via email@example.com. RSF will deliver these cards, letters, and messages in parallel to the Belarusian embassies in several countries on 6 November, Zolatava’s 46th birthday. International support is crucially needed for Zolatava, the editor-in-chief of TUT.BY, Belarus’ most popular independent news site before its ban.
“Three years into the Lukashenko regime’s relentless crackdown, it is more important than ever to mobilise internationally in support of courageous Belarusian journalists like Maryna Zolatava. We encourage all those around the world who care about press freedom to join our action to show solidarity with Maryna and send a clear message to the Belarusian authorities that the jailing of journalists and silencing of independent media is completely unacceptable. It’s time to #FreeZolatava along with the other 33 journalists behind bars in Belarus!
RSF’s Director of Campaigns
Maryna Zolatava has been detained since 18 May 2021, and is currently serving a 12-year sentence in a Minsk prison on national security charges, along with TUT.BY manager Liudmila Chekina. In August, the two were added to the Lukashenko regime’s list of “extremists,” meaning they will be banned from taking on any public role in Belarus, and the police will be able to monitor their financial transactions, as well as follow them when they will be released from prison.
Zolatava and Chekina were targeted as part of the severe crackdown launched by the Belarusian authorities following Alexander Lukashenko’s fraudulent reelection in August 2020. A total of 34 journalists are currently behind bars in Belarus - among them 10 women journalists - making the country the fourth largest jailer of journalists in the world.
Belarus is ranked 157th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index.