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  • CPJ: ex-journalist Larysa Shchyrakova detained in Belarus on undisclosed charges

    Belarusian authorities should publicly disclose the reason for former Belsat TV journalist Larysa Shchyrakova’s arrest or release her immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday.

    On Tues­day, Decem­ber 6, author­i­ties in the south­east­ern city of Homel detained Shchyrako­va, a for­mer jour­nal­ist with the banned Poland-based inde­pen­dent broad­cast­er Bel­sat TV, after search­ing her home, accord­ing to media reports and a report by the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists (BAJ), an advo­ca­cy and trade group oper­at­ing from exile.

    Author­i­ties did not dis­close the rea­son for Shchyrakova’s deten­tion, accord­ing to those sources.

    Shchyrako­va worked as a free­lancer for Bel­sat TV from 2007 until Feb­ru­ary 2022, when she announced she was leav­ing jour­nal­ism amid con­tin­ued gov­ern­ment harass­ment and deten­tions, accord­ing to her announce­ment and BAJ deputy head Barys Haret­s­ki, who spoke to CPJ via mes­sag­ing app.

    “Belaru­sian author­i­ties’ lack of dis­clo­sure around the deten­tion of for­mer jour­nal­ist Larysa Shchyrako­va is deeply con­cern­ing,” said Car­los Mar­tinez de la Ser­na, CPJ’s pro­gram direc­tor, in New York. “Author­i­ties should imme­di­ate­ly reveal any charges filed against her, and ensure that mem­bers of the press are not tar­get­ed for their work.”

    Belaru­sian author­i­ties have repeat­ed­ly harassed and detained Bel­sat TV employ­ees, and pre­vi­ous­ly fined and detained Shchyrako­va, and searched her home in rela­tion to her work with the out­let, accord­ing to media reports and Haret­s­ki.

    In Sep­tem­ber, Shchyrako­va post­ed mes­sages in sup­port of her for­mer Bel­sat TV col­league Yauhen Merkis, detained on charges of facil­i­tat­ing extrem­ist activ­i­ty, accord­ing to that BAJ report.

    Shchyrakova’s son was tak­en from his school to a youth shel­ter on the day his moth­er was detained, accord­ing to the human rights group Home­l­skaya Vias­na.

    “It seems like she is detained in a crim­i­nal case, oth­er­wise they could not detain her, as her son is a minor,” Haret­s­ki said.

    Since she left jour­nal­ism in Feb­ru­ary, Shchyrako­va has worked as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er doc­u­ment­ing Belaru­sian cul­tur­al prac­tices, accord­ing to the BAJ.

    CPJ emailed the Belaru­sian Inves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee for com­ment, but did not receive any response.




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