Paris, September 28, 2022 – In response to news reports that a court in Belarus on Wednesday convicted and sentenced Ksenia Lutskina to eight years in prison for conspiring to seize state power, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“The harsh verdict against former state TV journalist Ksenia Lutskina shows the ruthlessness of the Belarusian authorities toward those who reported on the nationwide crackdown following the 2020 anti-government protests,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Belarusian authorities must release Lutskina, along with all other jailed members of the press, and let the media work freely.”
Lutskina, a former correspondent for the state broadcaster Belteleradio (BT), has been detained since December 2020 and was charged with an unconstitutional “conspiracy to seize state power,” according to a July 7 statement by the Belarusian prosecutor general’s office.
Lutskina’s trial began on September 1. Belarusian authorities accused the journalist of having “prepared, edited, corrected various statements and appeals” of the Coordination Council, a Belarusian non-governmental body created in 2020 by opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, and thereby contributed to the “destabilization of the political, social, economic and informational situation in the country,” according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, a local advocacy and trade group.
CPJ was unable to immediately determine whether Lutskina intends to appeal her sentencing. Belarus was the world’s fifth-worst jailer of journalists, with at least 19 journalists behind bars on December 1, 2021, when CPJ published its most recent prison census.