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  • Court sentences Larysa Shchyrakova to 3.5 years in prison

    On August 31, Homel Regional Court announced the sentence of former journalist and local historian Larysa Shchyrakova – 3.5 years in prison. Shchyrakova was accused of “discrediting the Republic of Belarus” and “promoting extremist activities”.

    The court also fined her $1,316.

    Only the oper­a­tive part of the judg­ment was announced. Larysa start­ed cry­ing upon see­ing her fam­i­ly and friends in the court­room but soon com­posed her­self.

    The details of the charges against the jour­nal­ist are unknown, but it’s believed she dis­sem­i­nat­ed “untrue” infor­ma­tion about Belarus online. It’s also unclear what her involve­ment in “extrem­ist activ­i­ties” was. Attor­ney Vik­to­ria Famen­ka, who rep­re­sent­ed Shchyrako­va, signed a non-dis­clo­sure oblig­a­tion.

    Dur­ing the tri­al, it was revealed that the State Secu­ri­ty Com­mit­tee of the Repub­lic of Belarus decid­ed to declare the Homel chap­ter of the Vias­na Human Rights Cen­ter an extrem­ist for­ma­tion. The deci­sion accused the group of peo­ple affil­i­at­ed with it of engag­ing in extrem­ist activ­i­ties, specif­i­cal­ly employ­ing online plat­forms.

    Before the ver­dict announce­ment, Rober­ta Met­so­la, Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, showed com­plete sup­port for Larysa Shchyrako­va and all inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists jailed by Lukashen­ka. “In its many res­o­lu­tions,” said Rober­ta Met­so­la, “the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment has strong­ly con­demned the inhu­mane treat­ment of polit­i­cal pris­on­ers and their fam­i­lies, as well as the ongo­ing repres­sion of the polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion, inde­pen­dent media, and jour­nal­ists.”

    The for­mer jour­nal­ist was arrest­ed in Homel on Decem­ber 6, 2022. Her son Svi­ataslau was sent to a children’s home until his father came to take him out of the sys­tem.

    Larysa Shchyrako­va used to work for sev­er­al inde­pen­dent pub­li­ca­tions. But back in 2021, she pub­licly announced her quit­ting jour­nal­ism because of the harass­ment she had to endure for work­ing with­out accred­i­ta­tion. Ex-jour­nal­ist was held admin­is­tra­tive­ly liable over 40 times, includ­ing for her cov­er­age of post-elec­tion protests.

    Read more:


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