Officers of the Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) in Minsk detained Valeryia Kastsiuhova, founder and editor of independent analysis and opinion website Nashe Mneniye (Our Opinion), in June 2021. She faces charges of “conspiracy to seize state power” and "calls for actions aimed at harming national security."
Kastsiuhova wrote analytical pieces for Nashe Mneniye about the Belarusian protests following the disputed August 2020 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, 2021, after raiding Kastsiuhova’s apartment, KGB officers arrested her 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 Article 357, Part 1, of the country’s criminal code.
The daughter also said Kastsiuhova 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 12 years, according to Article 361, Part 3, of the criminal code.
On July 2, Nastasya Kastsiuhova, who lives in Lithuania, posted on her Facebook page that her mother was transferred to the Pretrial Detention Center No. 1 in Minsk, informally known as Valadarskaga.
In late 2021, the daughter told CPJ that Kastsiuhova had been sick with COVID-19 in October and was recovering. Nastasya Kastsiuhova told Belsat TV that she was only able to receive limited information about her mother because the journalist’s lawyer had signed a nondisclosure agreement with authorities.
As of late September 2022, Kastsiuhova remained in detention awaiting trial, Viasna reported.
CPJ contacted Nastasya Kastsiuhova via messaging app in September 2022 to ask her about her mother’s health status but did not receive any reply.
In September 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