A Belarusian law enforcement officer stands guard during an opposition demonstration in Minsk on August 14, 2020. Authorities recently sentenced journalist Yury Hladchuk to 2.5 years in prison. (Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko)

Belarusian journalist Yury Hladchuk sentenced to 2.5 years in prison

Paris, February 21, 2023–In response to news reports that Belarusian authorities sentenced journalist Yury Hladchuk to 2.5 years in prison in December, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:

“The opacity around the trial and sentencing of Belarusian journalist Yury Hladchuk shows that the Belarusian authorities continue to target journalists in the shadows, far from public scrutiny,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “Belarusian authorities should not contest Hladchuk’s appeal, drop all charges against him, and release him along with all other imprisoned journalists.”

In December 2022, a court in Minsk convicted Hladchuk of insulting Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko and “organizing or participating in gross violations of public order,” and sentenced him to two years and six months in jail, according to those reports and Viasna, a banned human rights group that continues to operate unofficially. Hladchuk’s appeal is scheduled for February 28.

Authorities detained Hladchuk, the branded content editor for ABW.by, a leading automobile news website, along with the outlet’s chief editor Yuliya Mudreuskaya, in June 2022. In September 2022, Mudreuskaya was sentenced to 1.5 years in a prison colony for allegedly participating in protests.

Belarus is one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists, according to CPJ’s 2022 prison census.