A hearing of the cases of Iryna Slaunikava, a former Belsat TV representative in Belarus, and her husband Alyaksandr Loyka took place in Pershamayski district court of Minsk on Monday.
The married couple was detained on the night of October 30 upon their arrival at Minsk Airport. On Saturday afternoon, it became known that they were taken to the infamous detention centre on Akrestsin Street.
The case of Alyaksandr Loyka was considered first. He was accused of ‘possessing extremist materials on three counts: in years of 2017, 2018 and 2019 for the purpose of their demonstration’ (in fact, what is meant here is the Facebook links to articles). Pershamayski district police department is reported to have received the corresponding information from the notorious GUBAZiK/GUBOPiK (Main Department for Combatting Organised Crime and Corruption).
Iryna Slaunikava started to be tried at 3 pm (Minsk time). She was given time to talk to her defence lawyer who later said that Iryna ‘looked good and tried to keep her chin up’. The media worker was charged under Part 2 of Art. 19.11 of the Code of Administrative Offences over ‘distributing materials listed as ‘extremist’ on Facebook’. The above mentioned posts were allegedly posted there through January 2020 to May 2021.
Alyaksandr managed to inform the lawyer that they had been detained at the passport checkpoint, handcuffed and not even allowed to pick up their luggage. According to him, the policemen were more brutal to Iryna than to him. Alyaksandr is being held in a two-man cell in which, however, ten persons were put; some of them have to sleep on the floor.
Judge Maksim Trusevich sentenced Iryna Slaunikava and Alyaksandr Loyka to 15 days in jail each.
Earlier this year, the websites of Belsat, TUT.by, Tribuna, reform.by, Deutsche Welle, Novy Chas, Current Time and others were recognised as ‘extremist’. It should be noted that the words ‘extremism’ and ‘destructive activity’ are now used by the Lukashenka regime to condemn any manifestation of dissent and protest moods.
Thus, anyone who shares news of the ‘extremist’ portals or even a photo with their logo in social networks or even private messages may be punished. Moreover, the Belarusian security officers interpret the law so that they also punish for posts and messages made before the recognition of materials as ‘extremist’. Under Article 19.11, a fine from 290 to 870 rubles may be imposed on the defendant, as well as administrative arrest and confiscation of equipment which is recognised as ‘means for committing a crime’.