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  • Journalist Andrei Hniot placed under house arrest

    On Octo­ber 30, 2023, at the request of the Belaru­sian regime, the Ser­bian Bor­der Guard detained jour­nal­ist and film direc­tor Andrei Hniot. Today’s imme­di­ate goal is to pre­vent his extra­di­tion to Belarus.

    Andrei Hniot Андрэй Гнёт

    Andrei Hniot. Pho­to: Insta­gram

    Pavel Latush­ka, head of the Nation­al Anti-Cri­sis Man­age­ment, shared the lat­est on Andrei Hniot’s fate:

    “This is a big step in deter­min­ing Andrei’s fate. He’s been iso­lat­ed for over sev­en months, with­out prop­er med­ical care, which has led to a decline in his health. The next step is to pre­vent his extra­di­tion to Belarus, where he’s fac­ing polit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion.”

    The Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice got the ball rolling by set­ting up a work­ing group of For­eign Min­istry and embassy rep­re­sen­ta­tives from across Europe to help with the case of Andrei Hniot. Inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions and Euro­pean politi­cians are push­ing for the journalist’s release.

    After sev­en months and six days in a Bel­grade prison for polit­i­cal rea­sons, the jour­nal­ist was released on house arrest. He thanked every­one who had helped him and explained what the future held for him.

    “We’ve made some progress. The Ser­bian court is still decid­ing whether to extra­dite me or not, to arrest me or let me live. The sec­ond sea­son of this chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tion has begun. In this sea­son, the fight for me will be even more dif­fi­cult and uncom­pro­mis­ing.”

    Andrei Hniot is a direc­tor of TV com­mer­cials and music videos and a jour­nal­ist. He was engaged in video pro­duc­tion for the asso­ci­a­tion SOS.by, which has been des­ig­nat­ed as an «extrem­ist for­ma­tion» in Belarus.

    In May 2022, he won the Effie Awards Rus­sia com­pe­ti­tion. In 2016, the marketing.by news out­let report­ed that Hniot is «one of the most famous and in-demand» Belaru­sian direc­tors. His client list includes well-known domes­tic brands such as MTS, Mark Formelle, Bul­bash, Oli­varia, Spar­tak, Bel­lakt, and World of Tanks.

    The 41-year-old film­mak­er was detained by the Ser­bian Bor­der Guard on Octo­ber 30, 2023, upon arrival in Bel­grade. He was sub­se­quent­ly hand­ed over to the police.

    The rea­son for deten­tion is the indi­vid­u­al’s inclu­sion on the inter­na­tion­al want­ed list at the request of the Belaru­sian Inter­pol Bureau on Sep­tem­ber 21, 2023. The agency asks to extra­dite Hniot to Belarus for crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion.

    The Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists issued a state­ment call­ing on the Ser­bian author­i­ties to imme­di­ate­ly release Belaru­sian Andrei Hniot and not to extra­dite him to Belarus.

    On March 12, the Court of Appeal in Bel­grade over­turned the deci­sion to extra­dite Hniot to Belarus. The case was remand­ed for recon­sid­er­a­tion.

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