February 18, 2021
The United States Embassy condemns the political convictions and egregious prison sentences announced today to punish two Belsat journalists for their work in providing information to the public. This judicial action adds to the evidence that the authorities’ objective is not one of justice but rather an attempt to silence the media and limit the Belarusian people’s access to information in order to further political aims.
Belsat journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva (Bakhvalava) and Daria Chultsova were convicted of “organizing events seriously undermining public order.” The cases against these journalists, who covered and reported on a protest and the violent police reaction to it, were patently contrived. These are not the first journalists to be imprisoned by the regime in Belarus, and we call for the immediate release of all 11 who remain in custody.
The United States again calls upon the Belarusian authorities to cease the persecution and prosecution of journalists and media outlets for covering the news. The United States reiterates that Belarusian authorities have a commitment to protect and uphold fundamental freedoms, especially those of assembly, speech, and the press. A strong, independent media and access to information are prerequisites for the rule of law and are essential for a successful and modern society to flourish. The people of Belarus deserve a better future, and the United States stands firmly by their side.