A view of the Belarusian capital of Minsk on February 12, 2023. A Minsk court recently upheld the two-and-a-half-year prison sentence of journalist Ivan Muravyou. (AFP/Natalia Kolesnikova)

Belarusian court upholds journalist Ivan Muravyou’s 2.5-year prison term

Paris, March 10, 2023–In response to news reports that Belarusian authorities upheld the two-and-a-half-year prison sentence of journalist Ivan Muravyou on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement condemning the ruling:

“In Belarus, where trials of members of the media are ruthless and politically motivated, any hope of a fair verdict seems sadly naïve,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Belarusian authorities should drop all charges against journalist Ivan Muravyou, release him along with all other imprisoned journalists, and stop using the country’s extremism legislation to retaliate against members of the press.”

Muravyou, a former freelance camera operator with the independent Poland-based online television station Belsat TV, has been held since his arrest in August 2022. That December, a court in Minsk convicted him of participating in “an extremist formation,” and sentenced him to two years and six months in prison, according to Viasna, a banned human rights group.

In a closed-door hearing on Friday, March 10, the Belarusian Supreme Court rejected his appeal, according to those news reports.

Authorities accused Muravyou of shooting videos for an investigation by the Belarusian Investigative Center, an independent media outlet, that Belsat TV aired in July 2022, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, an advocacy and trade group operating from exile.

At least 26 journalists, including Muravyou, were detained in Belarus at the time of CPJ’s December 1, 2022, prison census.