Andrei Tolchyn
Belarusian journalist Andrei Tolchyn was detained by authorities in the city of Homel in relation to extremism charges on September 27, 2023. (Photo courtesy of, RFE/RL)

Belarus detains journalist Andrei Tolchyn on extremism charges

New York, September 28, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the 72-hour detention of Belarusian journalist Andrei Tolchyn on extremism charges.

“Belarusian authorities continue to detain journalists on spurious grounds, with their preferred weapon being extremism charges,” Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator said on Thursday. “Authorities should drop all charges against Andrei Tolchyn, release him immediately, and ensure that no journalists are jailed for their work.”

On Wednesday, authorities in the southeastern city of Homel detained Tolchyn, a freelance camera operator, and placed him under arrest for 72 hours, according to media reports and the Belarusian Association of Journalists, an advocacy and trade group operating from exile.

On Thursday, authorities searched Tolchyn’s home as part of an unspecified “extremism” case and seized his equipment, including a laptop, according to a BAJ representative, who spoke to CPJ under condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.

Authorities have previously detained Tolchyn multiple times and fined him in connection to his work.

CPJ emailed the Belarusian Investigative Committee, the country’s law enforcement agency, for comment but did not receive any response.

Belarus was the world’s fifth worst jailer of journalists, with at least 26 journalists behind bars on December 1, 2022, when CPJ conducted its most recent annual prison census.