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Repression in Belarus continues as journalists, scientists sentenced to penal colonies

Two journalists from the online portal of the Belarusian service have been sentenced to 12 years at a penal colony. 45-year-old Maryna Zolatava and 49-year-old Lyudmila Chekina were putting out news independent of the regime’s propaganda, of Alexander Lukashenko.

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A court in Minsk sentenced editor Maryna Zolatava and general director Lyudmila Chekina to 12 years at a penal colony. They were convicted of allegedly having “incited social hatred” and “calling to harm national security”.

Before the verdict was announced, the state television broadcasted a video presenting the portal as an “empire of lies” accusing it of initiating protests in the country.

Until 2021 the portal was the largest information portal in Belarus not under control of the authorities. It was closed down during the wave of repression, after the election protests. Several journalists and employees were arrested.

Human rights organizations estimate that there are over 40 journalists and publishers currently held in Belarusian prisons.

Penal colony for people of science

A court in Minsk also sentenced two female scientists to 10 years at a penal colony for allegedly “acting to seize power” and “calling to harm national security”.

55-year-old Valeryja Kasciugowa is a well-known political scientist and editor of political science publications, also expert opinions. 49-year-old Tatiana Kuzina worked at the Political and Administrative Sciences Department of the European Humanities University in Vilnius. Both women were arrested and convicted as a result of their scientific activity, as well as for having described the actual state of societal crisis in Belarus.

Polish EU Affairs Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk announced that in the face these repressions in Belarus, Poland is going to push for more sanctions against the regime.

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