The management of the largest independent media in Belarus was sentenced to 12 years in prison

The Minsk City Court sentenced the former editor-in-chief of the largest independent publication in Belarus, the portal, Marina Zolotova and its president Lyudmila Chekina to 12 years in prison. The court found the defendants guilty of tax evasion, as well as incitement to hatred and incitement to actions detrimental to the national security of Belarus.

The Belarusian KGB placed Zolotova and Chekana on the list of “persons involved in terrorist activities”, and Belarusian human rights activists recognized them as political prisoners. The Belarusian Association of Journalists condemned the verdict as “cruel revenge for the truth.” The human rights group Reporters Without Borders dismissed the accusations as “absurd” and drew attention to the fact that the trial was held behind closed doors.

Three more defendants in the case – economics and politics editor Olga Loiko, correspondent Elena Tolkacheva and legal adviser Yekaterina Tkachenko – were released from custody on personal bail. They were placed on a wanted list after failing to appear for a trial. Their case is separated into separate proceedings. journalists actively covered the protests in Belarus that took place after the country’s presidential election in August 2020. In December of the same year, a court in Minsk deprived of its media status. A lawsuit filed by the Belarusian Ministry of Information alleged that the site was disseminating “untrue information”.

In the spring of 2021, criminal proceedings were initiated against employees. On May 18 of the same year, the Belarusian authorities blocked the publication’s website, because it allegedly stated “numerous facts of violation of the law in the media regarding the posting of prohibited information.” On the same day,’s editorial office, its regional offices, and related companies underwent massive searches.


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