Law enforcement officers patrol in Minsk, Belarus, on March 25, 2021. Authorities recently sentenced journalist Dzmitry Luksha to four years in prison. (AFP)

Belarusian journalist Dzmitry Luksha sentenced to 4 years in prison

Paris, December 2, 2022 — In response to a Belarusian court’s sentencing of journalist Dzmitry Luksha to four years in prison on Friday, December 2, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement of condemnation:

“The four-year prison sentence imposed on Dzmitry Luksha, just for doing his job as a journalist, shows that Belarusian authorities’ resolve to suppress all dissenting voices has not wavered,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Authorities should immediately release Luksha, along with all other jailed members of the press, and let the media work freely.”

A court in Minsk, the capital, convicted Luksha, a freelance journalist with the Kazakh state-funded television station Khabar 24 and former reporter with Belarusian state broadcaster Belteleradio, of “discrediting Belarus” and “organizing or participating in gross violations of public order,” according to media reports and Viasna, a banned Belarusian human rights group. The court sentenced him to four years in prison and a fine of 16,000 Belarusian rubles (US$6,380), those reports said.

Prosecutors accused Luksha, who has been detained since March, of producing “a series of videos containing deliberately false information” and submitting them to a foreign TV channel, those reports said. According to media reports, Luksha’s charges likely stem from his reporting on Belarus’ alleged cooperation with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A Viasna representative who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal, said Luksha pled guilty to one of the charges and partially guilty to the other, but did not provide any further details. CPJ was unable to determine whether he intended to file an appeal.

Luksha’s wife Palina Palavinka, who is not a journalist, was sentenced Friday to two years and six months in prison and to a fine of 3,200 rubles (US$1,280) on the same charges, according to Viasna.

CPJ emailed the Belarusian Investigative Committee and the Minsk City Court, but did not receive any replies.