Watch Heads of Belarusian Media Outlet Sentenced to 12 Years at Closed Trial – US Latest News

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(Reuters) – Two women who ran an independent online media outlet that was critical of the Belarus authorities were each sentenced on Friday to 12 years in prison, the prosecutor’s office said.

Marina Zolotova, editor-in-chief of the internet portal, and Lyudmila Chekina, its general director, were arrested in May 2021 with other employees, most of whom were later released.

They were initially charged with tax evasion, and later with inciting hatred and calling for sanctions against Belarus. The state news agency posted video of them sitting in a courtroom cage in handcuffs at their closed trial. actively covered mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko in 2020 and was banned by the authorities as an “extremist organisation”. Many of its staff left the country, creating a new outlet called Zerkalo (Mirror).

According to human rights activists, Belarus now has about 1,500 political detainees, arrested for criticising the authorities or participating in the 2020 protests against the outcome of a presidential election that the opposition said was rigged.

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Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, co-winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, was sentenced to 10 years in prison this month after being found guilty of financing protests, in a trial condemned by the United States and the European Union as a sham.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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