Supreme Court Judge Yury Rutkouski held a closed session to review the Vitsebsk Regional Court verdict. The convicted spouses received a new sentence under section 3 of Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code (participation in an extremist formation) after the crime was reclassified.
The verdict of today’s closed trial was reported to the BAJ monitoring service by human rights defender Pavel Levinau.
According to the Supreme Court’s decision, Viachaslau Lazarau must serve five years in prison, which commutes his original sentence by 6 months. He was found guilty of promoting extremist activity.
His wife Tatsiana Pytsko who was initially sentenced to three years in prison for the same crime is to be released from custody after the appeal. The Supreme Court ruled to change her punishment to a three-year suspended sentence.
Tatsiana Pytsko may be freed from Vitsebsk pretrial detention center after being held for nearly six months, provided that the facility receives the necessary files regarding the recent Supreme Court decision by mail.
On September 25 this year, Vitsebsk freelancer Viachaslau Lazarau and his wife Tatsiana Pytsko were found guilty of working with the Belsat TV channel deemed extremist by the Belarusian authorities.
Viachaslau Lazarau was detained on 9 February 2023. Security forces searched his home and seized his office equipment. He has been detained ever since. Tatsiana Pytsko was arrested on 6 June 2023, during another house search. She was on maternity leave at the time, caring for their one-year-old daughter. The baby was placed in a local children’s hospital until Tatsiana’s relatives collected her. Tatsiana’s ex-husband takes care of their two older children.
Tatsiana Pytsko and Viachaslau Lazarau remain in the Vitsebsk pretrial detention center. They were previously arrested during the 2020 protests and had to spend some time in jail. In the same year’s autumn, Lazarau was detained and searched three more times, but the case did not go to court.
Besides, the videographer was fined several times in 2018-19 for collaborating with foreign media without state accreditation.