Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Belarusian journalist Kuznechik in custody despite serving sentence

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Belarusian journalist Kuznechik in custody despite serving sentence

Authorities in Belarus have yet again failed to release a freelance journalist who worked for the RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, even though he was sentenced to a second consecutive prison term on a controversial felony charge, 15 December was over.

Andrey Kuznechik was initially sentenced to 10 days in prison on 26 November after a trial in which he refused to accept a guilty verdict. He is being held at the Akrestina detention center in Minsk, where several inmates have said he was tortured. On 6 December, when his sentence ended, he was not released and was sentenced to a further 10 days in prison, also on a felony charge.

Relatives of Kuznechik told RFE/RL at the time that the journalist maintained his innocence.

RFE/RL President Jamie Fly has said that the extension of Kuznechik’s sentence “on the absurdly fabricated charges” should be considered a crime in itself.

Fly referred to the authoritarian in a statement on December 6, saying, “The state-sponsored kidnapping of Andrey continues, as part of all Lukashenka regime’s efforts to block free information access to the Belarusian people. Should be allowed to return to the family.” Ruler Alexander Lukashenko.

Kuznechick went for a bike ride on November 25 and returned with four people dressed in civilian clothes, according to his wife, Alessia Rak.
The men, who showed no identities, then searched their apartments, Raak said, only avoiding the rooms of their two young children.
Kuznechik was then turned away by the group, which gave no reason for his detention.

Tensions have been running high in Belarus since Lukashenko, in power since 1994, was declared the winner of a presidential election in August 2020 that opponents and the West say was rigged.

Many Western governments have since refused to recognize Lukashenka as Belarus’ legitimate leader, making it more dependent than ever on Russia, which analysts say is tightening its grip on its smaller neighbour. Making use of his weak position.

Tens of thousands of people have been detained, and human rights activists say more than 800 are now jailed as political prisoners.
Independent media and opposition social media channels have also been targeted.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.]

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