Our colleagues Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova have been behind bars since mid November.
On February 18, judge Natallya Buhuk passed a verdict of guilty and sentenced Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova to two years of imprisonment in a minimum-security penal colony. In late April, Minsk City Court considered their appeals; judges Alena Ananich and Pyotr Arlou ruled to uphold the sentences previously imposed on Andreyeva and Chultsova.
On May 24, Katsyaryna’s husband Ihar Ilyash was informed that his wife was transported to the penal colony in Homiel, where she would serve the term.
There is still no exact information of the whereabouts of another imprisoned colleague, Darya Chultsova. It is not ruled out that the girls were transferred together.
You can show your support and write to them:
Katsyaryna Bakhvalava (Andreyeva) / Darya Chultsova
Penal colony Nr 4,
Antoshkin Street 3
246035 Homiel, Belarus
Don’t forget to enclose an empty envelope so that the girls could respond to your letter. Thank you for your unindifference!
The journalists’ case was considered in Frunzenski district court of Minsk within three days in February. The investigators claim the Belsat crew ‘coordinated protesters and called for further actions’, but the two media workers were just performing their professional duties by reporting from the scene. Moreover, in accordance with the authorities’ version, the livestream of the journalists resulted in the stoppage of 13 buses, 3 trolleybuses and 3 streetcar routes as well as the damage to the city transport agency Minsktrans (around 11,562 rubles). Public prosecutor Alina Kasyanchyk demanded the two girls serve a two-year prison term each and their working equipment be confiscated in profit of the state. The defence lawyers asked the court to acquit the defendants due to the lack of evidence, but the judge took heed of the prosecution’s opinion.
Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova were arrested on November 15 for broadcasting live a violent dispersal of a rally in memory of murdered protester Raman Bandarenka and the destruction of a national memorial in the so called Square of Change by security forces. They were filming and commenting on what was going on from the apartment on the 14th floor of the house on Smarhouski Trakt Street in Minsk, where they had been invited by the hosts. After the rally, armed riot police broke the door to the apartment and detained the crew.
At first, Katsya and Dasha had administrative reports filed against them under Article 23.34 and 23.4 of the Administrative Code. They were accused of allegedly participating in an unauthorized protest and disobeying the police. On November 17, a Minsk court sentenced them to 7 days of administrative arrest for their professional activities. The court ruling said that Katsyaryna and Darya had committed an offense, but their actions did not constitute a crime. However, contrary to the court’s findings, a criminal case was launched against Belsat journalists right at that time. On November 20, they were charged under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code (organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order).
On November 24, Belarusian human rights watchdogs recognised Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova as political prisoners.