Ivan Muravyou

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Former Belarusian journalist Ivan Muravyou is serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence after being convicted in December 2022 on charges of participating in an extremist group. Belarusian authorities detained Muravyou in August 2022. 

On August 29, 2022, law enforcement officials in Minsk, the capital, detained Muravyou, a former operator with independent Poland-based online television station Belsat TV, according to a statement by Belarusian human rights groups, which was published by local advocacy and trade group Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), and Viasna, a human rights group. Both Viasna and BAJ are banned in Belarus.

Muravyou was charged with “participating in an extremist formation,” which carries up to six years in jail under Article 361-1, Part 3, of the Belarusian criminal code, those reports said. 

Authorities accused Muravyou of shooting videos for an investigation into alleged corruption by a member of President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s family by the Belarusian Investigative Center, an independent media outlet, that Belsat TV aired on July 12, 2022, according to BAJ

On December 26, 2022, a court in Minsk convicted Muravyou of the “extremist formation” charge and sentenced him to two years and six months in prison, according to Viasna.

In a closed-door hearing on March 10, 2023, the Belarusian Supreme Court rejected his appeal.

Muravyou is serving his sentence at the Prison No. 2 the eastern city of Bobruisk, according to Viasna.

On April 7, the Belarusian Ministry of Interior added him to its list of people allegedly involved in extremist activity, according to Viasna. 

In October 2023, Muravyou’s wife Yana told CPJ via messaging app that the journalist did not have any complaints about his health and was holding up well.

Previously, on August 4, 2020, police in the eastern Belarusian city of Shklow briefly detained Muravyou while he was working on an investigative story for Belsat TV about support for the opposition presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. He was detained again in Minsk on August 11, 2020, while covering the protests demanding Lukashenko’s resignation, he told now-defunct independent professional trade organization Press Club Belarus

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.