Journalist sentenced to eight years in prison in Belarus

Journalist sentenced to eight years in prison in Belarus< /p> UPDATE DAY

A Belarusian court on Wednesday sentenced journalist Katerina Bakhvalova to eight years and three months in prison for “state treason” in a secret trial, state agency Belta reported.

Previously, the opposition media Belsat for which she worked before her arrest had reported an eight-year sentence. The young woman was already serving a two-year prison sentence in connection with another case.

His trial took place behind closed doors in the town of Gomel (south). No information has filtered on the content of the charges of treason. The journalist's lawyer had to sign a confidentiality agreement even preventing him from informing his client's relatives.

The Belta agency does not provide any details on the facts of which the journalist.

The article of the penal code on the basis of which she was judged punishes the transmission of state secrets to foreign actors, espionage or collaboration with foreign entities with a view to undermine the security of Belarus.

The 28-year-old young woman used Andreeva as her pen name in her work.

She was arrested in mid-November 2020, in the midst of a historic protest movement in Belarus against re-election, deemed fraudulent, of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Police arrested her in Minsk while she was filming a rally in tribute to an artist, Roman Bondarenko, who had died three days earlier during his arrest by the forces. order.

She had been accused of having organized riots, then sentenced in February 2021 to two years in prison with one of her journalist colleagues, Daria Tchoultsova.

The two women worked for the opposition media Belsat, based in neighboring Poland. In July 2021, Belsat was declared an “extremist” by the Belarusian justice.

“It makes me furious to see how the regime is taking revenge against those who dared to resist”, reacted on Twitter the figure of the opposition in exile, Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa. She felt that Katerina Bakhvalova was being punished for having “shown the world the truth about the brutality” of the authorities.

The regime of Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994 and supported by the Kremlin, repressed without shames the 2020 protest movement by sentencing dozens of opponents and journalists to heavy prison terms.

According to the NGO Viasna, itself targeted by the repression, 1,244 people are currently imprisoned in Belarus for political reasons.