VIENNA, 17 March 2023 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, strongly condemned today the judgements in the cases against editor-in-chief Maryna Zolatava and director general Ludmila Chekina, of TUT.BY, one of the largest and most prominent Belarusian media portals.
According to reports, on 17 March, the Minsk City Court sentenced, in a session behind closed doors, Zolatava and Chekina to 12 years in prison. The authorities reportedly had pressed multiple charges against them, and both have been in custody since May 2021.
These verdicts follow a long list of the latest imprisonments and arrests of media workers, including these of Valeryia Kastsiuhova, political observer and editor of the website Nashe Mneniye. sentenced to 10 years; Andrzej Poczobut, journalist, sentenced to 8 years; Darya Losik, wife of jailed RFE/RL journalist Ihar Losik, sentenced to 2 years; Dzmitryy Luksha, journalist, sentenced to 4 years; Larysa Shchyrakova, former journalist, in pre-trial detention; Siarhei Stankevich and Aleh Rubchenia, editor-in-chief and deputy editor-in-chief respectively of Infa-Kurier newspaper, under arrest.
“The cruel verdicts against Maryna Zolatava and Ludmila Chekina, and other recent detainments of media workers are another illustration of the continued wide-scale persecution of journalists and independent voices in Belarus,” Ribeiro said. “I renew my call on the authorities to reverse this detrimental trend, to release all imprisoned media workers and abide by their OSCE media freedom commitments and other international standards.”
According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, currently, 36 media workers are detained in Belarus for their journalistic work.