Belarusian journalist Snezhana Inanets is serving a sentence of two years under house arrest after being convicted in January 2023 on charges of “organizing or participating in gross violations of public order.” Belarusian authorities detained Inanets in October 2022.
On October 6, 2022, police in Minsk, the capital, detained Inanets, a reporter at the independent news website Onliner, along with her husband Aliaksandr Lychauka, a local historian and reporter with independent news website The Village, according to news reports.
In “confession” videos, which CPJ reviewed, published October 7, 2022, 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.
However, 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. He said 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.
On January 13, 2023, a court convicted Inanets and Lychauka of organizing or participating in gross violations of public order and put them under house arrest, according to Haretski and a report by BAJ. The court sentenced Inanets to two years, and Lychauka to three years, of house arrest, according to those sources. They did not file an appeal, Lychauka’s mother Natalya told CPJ via messaging app.
According to Article 48-1 of the Belarusian Code of Execution of Criminal Sentences, a person under “home confinement” can go to work, but must be at home from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. During their free time, they cannot leave the country or violate any laws, and are barred from consuming alcohol or going out for entertainment purposes. Also, authorities can carry out checks at any time of the day or night.
Natalya Lychauka told CPJ via messaging app in October 2023 that neither Inanets nor Lychauka reported any health issues and were serving their house-arrest sentences.
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.