Belarusian journalist Katsiaryna Barysevich was sentenced to six months in jail today. (Photo: Tatyana Korovenkova/BelaPan)

CPJ condemns sentencing of Belarus journalist Katsiaryna Barysevich to 6 months in jail

Vilnius, Lithuania, March 2, 2021 — In response to today’s sentencing of Belarusian journalist Katsiaryna Barysevich to six months in jail and a fine over her coverage of protests in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:

“Today’s sentencing of journalist Katsiaryna Barysevich is yet another example of how the Belarusian authorities will bully into silence any journalist who would dare to report independently,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Barysevich should be released immediately and allowed to continue her work freely and safely.”

Today, the Maskouvsky district court in Minsk, the capital, convicted Barysevich, a correspondent for the independent news website, on charges of “violating medical confidentiality with grave consequences,” sentenced her to six months in jail, and fined her 2,880 Belarusian rubles (US $1105), according to a report by her employer.

The charges stemmed from a November 13, 2020, article by Barysevich about the death of a man during a protest calling for the resignation of President Aleksandr Lukashenko, in which she questioned authorities’ explanation for the man’s death, according to her employer. Barysevich was arrested on November 19, 2020, according to CPJ research, and has been detained since then.

Olga Khvoin, secretary of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, an independent trade and advocacy group, told CPJ in a phone interview that it was not clear whether Barysevich will appeal the ruling because the trial was held behind closed doors and the case was classified.