Two Journalists Sentenced To Prison In Belarus For Filming Protests: REPORT

(Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images 7124666)

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Madeline Dovi Contributor
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A Minsk court sentenced two journalists to two years in prison for filming protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday.

Reporter Katsiaryna Andreyeva and camerawoman Darya Chultsova, who work for Poland-based news channel Belsat, were detained in November after recording protests over the death of Roman Bondarenko, a protestor that died after being reportedly beaten by security forces, according to a Financial Times report.

The Minsk court ruled that the two women were guilty of “organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order,” due to broadcasting live footage of the protests, the Financial Times reported.

The two women appeared in a cage at their court hearing on Thursday, flashing “V” for victory signs after their lawyer said they would appeal the verdict, according to Reuters.

The ruling has garnered backlash from neighboring news outlets and opposition leaders condemning Lukashenko’s treatment of journalists. (RELATED: Six Months Of Election-Related Protests Labeled Rebellion By Belarusian President)

“We consider the verdict as politically motivated, aiming to intimidate all media workers so they stop doing their job of reporting on socially important events in the country, which in fact means a ban on the profession,” The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) wrote in a statement following the verdict.

The Baltic News Service Lithuania poured support out for Andreyeva and Chultsova in a tweet Thursday.

More than 400 reporters have been detained since the protests began in August, according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

“I ask the authorities to carefully review the cases of all arrested journalists and to fully comply with the principles of rule of law,” said Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in a statement on Tuesday. “My Office stands ready to provide assistance and expertise in addressing these problematic matters and in improving the media freedom situation and safety of media workers in Belarus.”

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