Belarusian authorities have detained journalist Aliaksandr Lychauka since October 2022 on charges of “organizing or participating in gross violations of public order.”
On October 6, 2022, police in Minsk, the capital, detained Lychauka, a local historian and reporter with independent news website The Village, and his wife Snezhana Inanets, a reporter at the independent news website Onliner, according to news reports.
In “confession” videos published October 7 by a pro-government Telegram channel, Inanets and Lychauka say they were detained for taking part in the 2020 nationwide protests demanding the resignation of President Aleksandr Lukashenko and subscribing to “destructive” Telegram channels and chats. But Barys Haretski, deputy head of the banned local advocacy and trade group Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), told CPJ via messaging app that both Inanets and Lychauka covered the 2020 protests as journalists.
Haretski told CPJ that since 2020 Belarusian authorities have been increasingly forcing detainees to make “confession” videos to “instill fear” among Belarusians. “All those ‘confession’ videos tell people, the society, that you can find yourself in the same place as this person,” he said.
Lychauka and Inanets are held in pre-trial detention center No. 1 in Minsk and charged with allegedly “organizing or participating in gross violations of public order under Article 342, Part 1, of the Belarusian criminal code, reported BAJ, which was shut down by the government in 2021 but still operates on an unofficial basis. If found guilty, they face up to four years in prison.
Lychauka’s mother Natalya told CPJ via messaging app in October 2022 that both Lychauka and Inanets were doing fine and did not report any health issues.
In September 2022, CPJ called the Ministry of Interior’s press service, but nobody answered the phone. CPJ emailed the Belarusian Investigative Committee but did not receive any replies.