A court in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Friday sentenced the editor-in-chief and general director of the independent news site Tut.by to 12 years in prison. The conviction occurred against the background of a wave of repressions in Belarus organized by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
According to Vyasna NGO, editor-in-chief Maryna Zolotova (45) and general director Lyudmila Chekina (54) were convicted after a closed trial that lasted more than two months.
“The sentence against our colleagues is a cruel form of revenge for the fact that they told Belarusians the truth with Tut.by,” the Belarusian Association of Journalists said in a statement.
Maryna Zolotova and Lyudmila Chekina were accused of tax evasion and inciting enmity, among other “absurd” charges according to the public organization “Reporters Without Borders”.
Two women sat in a glass box for defendants when the verdict was announced, state-run Belta reported. They were detained in May 2021 and have been behind bars since then.
Two journalists and Tut.by’s lawyer who fled Belarus are being tried separately.
Friday’s sentences are a symbol of Lukashenko’s ruthless crackdown on any criticism of his rule since he was rocked by a major protest movement in 2020. For weeks, the Tut.by website has covered protests that brought tens of thousands of people to the streets of Minsk and other cities to denounce the disputed re-election of Oleksandr Lukashenka, who has been in power for three decades.
Source : HLN