Valeryia Kastsiuhova

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Officers of the KGB, the Belarusian security service, in Minsk detained Valeryia Kastsiuhova, founder and editor of independent analysis and opinion website Nashe Mneniye (Our Opinion) in June 2021. 

Kastsiuhova wrote analytical pieces for Nashe Mneniye about the Belarusian protests following the August 2020 contested reelection of President Aleksandr Lukashenko. She is a political scientist, according to Viasna, a banned human rights group that operates unofficially in the country. 

On June 30, KGB officers arrested her at her apartment after raiding it and took her to the Akrestsina detention center in Minsk, according to a report by Current Time, the Russian-language online TV project of U.S. Congress-funded broadcasters Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America.

The journalist’s daughter, Nastasya Kastsiuhova, told CPJ via messaging app and in an interview with independent Polish-based broadcaster Belsat TV that her mother was charged with “conspiracy or other actions committed with the aim of seizing state power,” which carries a prison sentence of up to 12 years, according to the country’s criminal code

Nastasya Kastsiuhova also said the journalist was charged with “calls for actions aimed at the detriment of the external security of the Republic of Belarus, its sovereignty, territorial inviolability, national security and defense capability,” which carries a prison sentence of up to five years, according to the criminal code.

On July 2, Nastasya Kastsiuhova, who lives in Lithuania, posted on her Facebook page that her mother was transferred to the pre-trial Detention Center No. 1 in Minsk, informally known as Valadarskaga. 

Nastasya Kastsiuhova told CPJ that her mother was sick with COVID-19 in October and was recovering; she told Belsat TV that she is only able to receive limited information about her mother because the journalist’s lawyer signed a nondisclosure agreement with authorities. 

In November 2021, CPJ called the Ministry of Interior’s press service but the phone was not answered. CPJ also emailed a request for comment to the Belarusian National Press Center, which covers the activities of the president, the national assembly, the council of ministers, the Belarus president’s administration, and other government bodies, but did not receive any response.