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TV Journalists Face 3 Years in Prison for Reporting on Belarus Protests

Journalists Yekaterina Andreeva and Darya Chultsova attend a court hearing in Minsk.
Journalists Yekaterina Andreeva and Darya Chultsova attend a court hearing in Minsk.

Two Belarusian journalists working for the Polish television channel Belsat went on trial in the capital Minsk on Tuesday on charges related to their coverage of mass protests in 2020, the Belarusian Association of Journalists said.

Yekaterina Andreeva and Darya Chultsova, a reporter and a camerawoman for Belsat, were arrested in November after a demonstration.

Months of protests took place in Belarus after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory over opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in an election in August. The opposition said the result was rigged.

Prosecutors accused Andreeva and Chultsova of coordinating the protests by broadcasting live reports. They have denied the charges, for which they could be sentenced to three years in prison. They appeared in court inside a cage.

International human rights organizations have condemned the detention of Andreeva and Chultsova.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists urged Belarusian authorities to drop the "absurd" charges against Andreyeva and Chultsova and release them unconditionally.

"The Belarus government must stop punishing journalists for reporting on important political events, and allow them to work freely and without fear of reprisal," it said in a statement on Monday.

Thousands of protesters were rounded up and nearly all opposition political figures were driven into exile or jailed as the government cracked down.

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