New York, January 18, 2023 – In response to reports that Belarusian authorities sentenced journalist Yulia Mudreuskaya to 1.5 years in a prison colony for her alleged participation in protests, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement of condemnation:
“Belarusian journalist Yuliya Mudreuskaya should never have been detained by authorities in the first place; her recent sentencing to 18 months in a penal colony is a grave abuse of power,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Mudreuskaya and all other journalists held behind bars must be released immediately. Belarusian authorities should stop holding secretive trials of journalists and must allow members of the press to work freely and safely.”
Mudreuskaya’s sentencing was reported by Viasna, a banned human rights group that continues to operate unofficially, and the Belarusian Association of Journalists, an advocacy and trade group operating from exile. Those reports, published on January 14, say Mudreuskaya was convicted in 2022, her appeal was rejected, and she has begun her sentence.
Authorities detained Mudreuskaya, chief editor of the automobile news website ABW.by, along with Yury Hladchuk, the outlet’s branded content editor, on June 16, 2022. On June 16 and 17, the pro-government Telegram channel Center E published “confession” videos of the journalists, which CPJ reviewed.
Mudreuskaya’s trial began on September 19 and Hladchuk’s began on December 2, according to Viasna and the BAJ, which said that no new information was available concerning Hladchuk’s status.