Belarusian freelance photojournalist Yana Trusila was detained in late November 2020 while covering a protest rally in Minsk and sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest, weeks after serving a separate sentence on similar charges. She was one of dozens of journalists detained for documenting widespread demonstrations in the second half of 2020 calling on President Aleksandr Lukashenko to resign.
The 20-year-old Trusila covers news, society, politics, and other beats for the independent Belarusian news outlet Novy Chas, according to news reports. She had been actively covering the protests in Minsk in the months prior to her arrest, according to a CPJ review of her work.
Police arrested Trusila while she was covering the “March of the neighbors” rally demanding Lukashenko’s resignation in Minsk, the capital, on November 29, 2020, and took her to the Leninsky district police department, according to news reports. Witnesses to her arrest were quoted as saying that law enforcement officers targeted her specifically, and ran after the journalist to arrest her, likely because she had photographed special police equipment, according to reports.
Police in Belarus have been routinely arresting and charging journalists covering the antigovernment protests with “participating in unsanctioned rallies,” and sentencing them to short stays in prison or fines, CPJ has documented.
On November 30, 2020, the Leninskiy district court found Trusila guilty of “participating in an unsanctioned event,” sentenced her to 15 days of administrative arrest, and transferred her to the Center for the Isolation of Offenders, informally known as Akrestsin detention center, according to news reports.
On November 1, 2020, police had detained Trusila–who was covering a protest in Minsk on assignment for Novy Chas–and on the same day the Oktiabrsky district court in Minsk sentenced the journalist to 13 days of administrative detention, charging her with “participating in an unsanctioned event” and “resisting police,” according to Novy Chas and news reports.
Barys Haretski, the deputy head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, an independent trade group, who spoke with CPJ in a phone interview, said he had no information about the journalist’s health condition in detention.
CPJ emailed a request for comment to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, but did not receive any response.