Belarusian Journalist Gets Lengthy Prison Sentence on Treason Charge

Belarusian journalist Dzyanis Ivashyn has been sentenced to 13 years and one month in prison on a high treason charge.

The Hrodna regional court in the country’s west also ruled on September 14 that Ivashyn must pay a fine and compensation to nine unspecified victims.

Ivashyn’s trial started in mid-August behind closed doors.

Ivashyn was arrested in March last year by the Belarusian KGB and charged with high treason, though his colleagues say the arrest was connected with his publications about former Ukrainian Berkut members employed by the Belarusian police.

The arrest came amid a crackdown on independent journalists, opposition politicians, and rights activists following unprecedented mass protests challenging the results of an August 2020 presidential poll that announced authoritarian ruler Alexander Lukashenko as the winner.

Rights activists and opposition politicians say the poll was rigged to extend Lukashenko’s rule.

Thousands have been detained during countrywide protests and there have been credible reports of torture and ill-treatment by security forces. Several people have died during the crackdown.

Many of Belarus’s opposition leaders have been arrested or forced to leave the country, while Lukashenko has refused to negotiate with the opposition.

Belarusian human rights organizations have recognized Ivashyn as a political prisoner.

The United States, the European Union, and several other countries have refused to acknowledge Lukashenko as the winner of the vote and imposed several rounds of sanctions on him and his regime, citing election fraud and the police crackdown.

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