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  • EFJ President: This conviction is intended to intimidate the entire profession, to criminalise journalism

    Two Belarusian journalists sentenced to two years in prison for doing their job.

    Cata­ri­na Andree­va and Dar­ja Chul­co­va, two jour­nal­ists for Bel­sat, the Pol­ish satel­lite tele­vi­sion sta­tion aimed at Belarus, have each been sen­tenced on 18 Feb­ru­ary to two years in prison for report­ing live from an anti-gov­ern­ment ral­ly in Min­sk in Novem­ber. The Euro­pean and Inter­na­tion­al Fed­er­a­tions of Jour­nal­ists (EFJ-IFJ) and their affil­i­ate in Belarus, the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists (BAJ), strong­ly con­demn the crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of jour­nal­ism by Pres­i­dent Lukashenko‘s regime and call on the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to react firm­ly.

    In accor­dance with the request of pros­e­cu­tor Ali­na Kasyanchyk, judge Natallya Buhuk of the Frun­ze dis­trict court in Min­sk, sen­tenced Cata­ri­na Andree­va and Dar­ja Chul­co­va after find­ing them guilty of “orga­niz­ing pub­lic events aimed at dis­rupt­ing civ­il order.”

    The two jour­nal­ists were arrest­ed on 15 Novem­ber while they were cov­er­ing a ral­ly in Min­sk. The EFJ and IFJ have rec­og­nized Andree­va and Chul­co­va as polit­i­cal pris­on­ers and demand­ed their imme­di­ate release and the drop­ping of all charges against them.

    In their last state­ment in the court­room, Andree­va and Chul­co­va reject­ed the charges against them, call­ing them polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed. Andree­va also demand­ed the “imme­di­ate release” of her­self, Chul­co­va, and “all polit­i­cal pris­on­ers in Belarus.”

    “We con­sid­er the ver­dict as polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed, aim­ing to intim­i­date all media work­ers so they stop doing their job of report­ing on social­ly impor­tant events in the coun­try, which in fact means a ban on the pro­fes­sion,” react­ed BAJ.

    BAJ, the EFJ and the IFJ demands :

    • the review of the tri­al in the case of Bel­sat jour­nal­ists Cata­ri­na Andree­va and Dar­ja Chul­co­va;

    • the imme­di­ate release of jour­nal­ists Cata­ri­na Andree­va and Dar­ja Chul­co­va;

    • an end to the per­se­cu­tion of jour­nal­ists and the media in Belarus.

    We call on the Belaru­sian and inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to join these demands.

    “This con­vic­tion is intend­ed to intim­i­date the entire pro­fes­sion, to crim­i­nalise jour­nal­ism. The repres­sive drift of dic­ta­tor Lukashenko’s regime requires a rapid and firm reac­tion from the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty. We once again call on the Euro­pean Union, the Coun­cil of Europe and the OSCE not to be com­plic­it in the regime’s abus­es,’ said EFJ Pres­i­dent Mogens Blich­er Bjer­regård.

    The EFJ is organ­is­ing a sol­i­dar­i­ty con­fer­ence with BAJ in which all Euro­pean jour­nal­ists’ unions and asso­ci­a­tions will par­tic­i­pate on Thurs­day 18 Feb­ru­ary at 1 pm.

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