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  • Son of detained ex-journalist found in orphanage. His father about to arrive from Siberia

    Former journalist Larysa Shchyrakova has been in Homel temporary detention center for three days now, and her minor son Sviataslau was found in a repair for children in the settlement of Biarozki in Homel District. This is just 1.5 km away from his home.

    The food par­cel for Larysa was not accept­ed by the deten­tion cen­ter admin­is­tra­tion. She is like­ly to be trans­ferred to a pre-tri­al facil­i­ty soon.

    The rea­sons for Shchyrakova’s deten­tion are still unknown. Accord­ing to her fam­i­ly, on 6 Decem­ber law-enforce­ment offi­cers raid­ed the pri­vate house where the woman lives. So far, she does not have a lawyer.

    Larysa’s rel­a­tives man­aged to con­tact Sviataslau’s father, who has lived in Novosi­birsk for a long time. He is the first per­son on the list of poten­tial offi­cial guardians.

    Ex-journalist’s home was already searched a year ago by the Finan­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment. As a result, her phone, pho­to and video equip­ment, and data car­ri­ers (hard dri­ves and flash dri­ves) were seized.

    At the inter­ro­ga­tion that fol­lowed, Larysa refused to tes­ti­fy against her­self. She also was banned from dis­clos­ing the details of the case. At that time, sim­i­lar search­es took place in the homes of pub­lic activists in Homel, Rechyt­sa, Kalinkavichy, and Mazyr.

    Pre­vi­ous­ly, Larysa Shchyrako­va coop­er­at­ed with inde­pen­dent pub­li­ca­tions. But back in 2021, she pub­licly stat­ed that she was 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. She would not get arrest­ed only because she was rais­ing her minor son alone.

    By train­ing, Shchyrako­va is an Eng­lish teacher. She used to head the local his­to­ry orga­ni­za­tion Tala­ka, now liq­ui­dat­ed by the author­i­ties.

    Over the past few months, the ex-jour­nal­ist has been engaged in eth­nic pho­to shoots – tak­ing pic­tures of peo­ple in Belaru­sian folk cos­tumes and relat­ed places. This year she enrolled in a psy­chol­o­gy course. Despite the threats, Shchyrako­va chose to stay in Belarus.

    She made doc­u­men­taries and imple­ment­ed her own project to hon­or the repressed in the USSR titled “The Mur­dered and For­got­ten.” Shchyrako­va record­ed the tes­ti­monies of rel­a­tives of the repressed dis­si­dents and used those records to pro­duce pub­li­ca­tions and doc­u­men­taries. Larysa also starred in movies, in par­tic­u­lar, play­ing the role of a famous com­pa­tri­ot, Palu­ta Baduno­va, a girl of the Belaru­sian Renais­sance, in a doc­u­men­tary of the same name with ele­ments of stag­ing.

    Three years ago, Larysa Shchyrako­va orga­nized an edu­ca­tion­al project at the “Medi­a­pas­to­ra” event space, where fans of video cam­eras and pho­to lens­es learned the basics of jour­nal­ism. Famous jour­nal­ists, includ­ing those from Swe­den, passed on their expe­ri­ence with­in the project.

    In Sep­tem­ber this year, after the deten­tion of her for­mer col­league Yauhen Merkis, Shchyrako­va talked about the arrests of jour­nal­ists on her social media and shared infor­ma­tion about actions of sol­i­dar­i­ty with Merkis that took place abroad.

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