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  • Journalist Iryna Slaunikava celebrates second birthday behind bars

    Iryna Slaunikava, who was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly "creating an extremist formation," turned 53 on July 12.

    The jour­nal­ist and her hus­band Ali­ak­san­dr Loi­ka were detained at the end of Octo­ber 2021 at the nation­al air­port as they returned from a vaca­tion. Ali­ak­san­dr was released after 45 days, while Iry­na was charged with sev­er­al crimes relat­ed to her jour­nal­is­tic work at the Bel­sat TV chan­nel. On 3 August 2022, she was sen­tenced to five years’ impris­on­ment for orga­niz­ing and prepar­ing actions that seri­ous­ly vio­lat­ed pub­lic order and par­tic­i­pa­tion in an extrem­ist for­ma­tion.

    Iry­na Slau­nika­va report­ed changes in her eye­sight in prison, which she attrib­uted to the poor light­ing in the pre-tri­al deten­tion cen­ter where she was held. The work­load in the sewing shop of Homel Wom­en’s Prison aggra­vates the sit­u­a­tion. Accord­ing to Iry­na’s hus­band, con­vict­ed women work in prison as vir­tu­al­ly free seam­stress­es. They have almost no free time because of their work.

    Forced to leave Belarus under threat of pros­e­cu­tion, Ali­ak­san­dr Loi­ka is now try­ing to orga­nize a nego­ti­a­tion process for the release of hostages held by the cur­rent regime. The main obsta­cle so far is the fact that the Belaru­sian author­i­ties them­selves refuse to «nego­ti­ate about polit­i­cal pris­on­ers» and clear­ly «over­price» them.

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