Belarusian authorities detained journalist Dzmitry Luksha in March 2022. He is being held in pretrial detention and is facing charges of discrediting Belarus and organizing or participating in gross violations of public order.
On March 11, 2022, law enforcement searched the home of Luksha, a freelance journalist with the Kazakh state-funded television station Khabar 24, and detained him. He was charged with allegedly discrediting the Republic of Belarus, under Article 369-1 of the country’s criminal code, and organizing or participating in gross violations of public order, under Article 342, Part 1, of the criminal code, according to Viasna, a banned Belarusian human rights group that operates unofficially in the country. If found guilty on both charges, he faces up to eight years in jail, up to four years for each charge.
Luksha’s detention was not made public until May 17, when Viasna reported that the journalist had been detained for two months and criminally charged over his reporting.
The Belarusian Prosecutor General’s Office has accused Luksha of "systematically submitting materials” about the events in Belarus to a foreign TV channel “for payment” from November 2021 to March 2022, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), a local advocacy and trade group that was shut down by the government in 2021 but still operates on an unofficial basis. “In order to discredit the country, with the help of a cameraman, he produced a series of videos containing deliberately false information and transmitted them to the said TV channel,” the prosecution said, according to BAJ.
According to media reports, Luksha’s charges likely stem from his latest reporting on Belarus’ alleged involvement alongside Russia in the war in Ukraine. The material, broadcast on March 6, was removed from Khabar 24’s website but remains accessible online.
Luksha worked for Belteleradio, the state television and radio broadcasting service, and RTVi, a privately owned international Russian-language television network, before joining Khabar 24 in 2018 as a freelance correspondent in Belarus, according to reports.
Luksha has repeatedly filmed reports for Khabar 24 about the 2020 protests in Belarus and the subsequent crackdown, and has been outspoken on social media about the country’s political situation, according to those reports.
Luksha’s wife Palina Palavinka, who is not a journalist, was detained on June 2 and is facing the same charges as Luksha, according to Viasna.
As of late September 2022, Luksha was being held in Pretrial Detention Center No. 1 in Minsk, informally known as Valadarka. On October 5, BAJ reported that the Prosecutor General’s Office had sent Luksha’s case to court. His trial started on November 18, according to Viasna.
In November 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. CPJ emailed Khabar 24’s editorial office but did not receive an answer.