Dzmitry Luksha

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Belarusian journalist Dzmitry Luksha is serving a four-year prison sentence after being convicted in December 2022 on charges of discrediting Belarus and “organizing or participating in gross violations of public order.” Belarusian authorities detained him in March 2022.

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.

Luksha’s detention was not made public until May 17, 2022, when Viasna reported that the journalist had been detained for two months and faced criminal charges over his reporting. 

The Belarusian Prosecutor General’s Office 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), an independent advocacy and trade group operating from exile. “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 stemmed from his latest reporting on Belarus’ alleged involvement alongside Russia in the war in Ukraine. The material, broadcast on March 6, 2022, was removed from Khabar 24’s website but remains accessible online

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Russia has used Belarusian territory as a platform for the deployment of troops and military assaults on Ukraine, according to news reports.

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. He has repeatedly filmed reports for Khabar 24 about the 2020 protests in Belarus and the subsequent crackdown, and has been outspoken about the country’s political situation on social media, according to those reports. 

Luksha’s trial started on November 18, 2022, according to Viasna. On December 2, 2022, a court in Minsk, the capital, convicted Luksha of “discrediting Belarus” and “organizing or participating in gross violations of public order,” according to media reports and Viasna. The court sentenced him to four years in prison and a fine of 16,000 Belarusian rubles (US$6,380), those reports said.

Luksha’s wife Palina Palavinka, who is not a journalist, was detained on June 2, 2022, and sentenced to two years and six months in prison and to a fine of 3,200 rubles (US$1,280) on the same charges, according to Viasna.

A Viasna representative who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal, said Luksha pled guilty to one of the charges and partially guilty to the other, but did not provide any further details.

On February 24, 2023, a Belarusian court upheld Luksha’s sentence, BAJ reported. 

On March 24, the Belarusian Ministry of Interior added him to its list of people allegedly involved in extremist activity, according to Viasna. 

Luksha is serving his sentence in Prison No. 17 in the northeastern city of Shklow, according to BAJ. 

CPJ could not locate contact information for Luksha’s family. 

In October 2023, CPJ called the Belarusian Ministry of Interior for comment, but nobody answered the phone. CPJ emailed the Belarusian Investigative Committee but did not receive any replies.