Journalist Larysa Shchyrakova has been sentenced to 3.5 years for providing material to Belsat. She has decided not to appeal the verdict

An independent journalist and tourist expert, Larysa Shchyrakova from Homel in Eastern Belarus, publicly announced that she will not appeal the verdict passed in her case on August 31. The verdict entailed a 3.5-year sentence in a penal colony and a fine of 3,500 rubles (approximately $1,400) for the charges of “deliberately disseminating false information discrediting the Republic of Belarus on the Internet” and “promoting extremist activities.”

September 11 marks ten days within which, following the legislation of the Republic of Belarus, the journalist could appeal against the verdict. Shchyrakova believes this would not be beneficial, as second-instance courts in Belarus have a history of upholding the sentences of those convicted in political trials. 

Larysa Shchyrakova was detained in Homel on December 6, 2022.

– She collected, created, processed, stored, and shared audio, video, photographic, and text information for further use to support the activities of the extremist information resource Viasna and the extremist formation Belsat – the General Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement regarding the journalist’s detention.

Following Shchyrakova’s arrest, her 16-year-old son was placed in a social and pedagogical center by the police. Despite objections from the journalist’s relatives, the center refused to release him without a “legal representative.” Eventually, the boy’s father traveled from Novosibirsk, Russia, and secured his release.

Until 2022, Larysa Shchyrakova worked as a freelance correspondent with various independent media outlets. She has created documentaries that showcase the folk culture of Polesie. In 2018, she established the Mediaprastora, a journalism training center in Homel. Following the rigged presidential elections in August 2020, she reported on social protests and faced multiple arrests and fines.

Belsat TV, along with its websites and social media profiles, has been classified as an “extremist group” in Belarus, and sharing or promoting its content is punishable by imprisonment.


Translated by PEV