Reputed media worker Andrey Alyaksandrau, his girlfriend Iryna Zlobina behind bars for one year

Prominent Belarusian media manager Andrey Alyaksandrau and his girlfriend Iryna Zlobina were arrested on 12 January 2021 as suspects in a criminal case initiated under Article 342-2 (‘organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, financing or other support of such activity’).

The couple ‘financed the protest actions that took part in the mass riots, including by paying fines and receipts for detention in isolation wards’, the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs claimed. According to them, Alyaksandrau and Zlobina paid more than 250 fines imposed on the detainees in ‘protest’ cases; they got the lists and funds from the solidarity foundation BY_Help.

Journalist Alyaksandrau and his girlfriend accused of paying fines for protesters

On the back of the arrest, the Belarusian human rights community assessed the persecution of Alyaksandrau and Zlobina as ‘politically motivated and aimed at stopping their activities to help the victims of political repressions’ and declared them political prisoners.

In March, it became known that the prison authorities placed Andrey Alyaksandrau and Iryna Zlobina on the preventive register as ‘persons prone to extremist and destructive actions’. Jailed Belsat TV journalists Katsyaryna Andreyeva, Darya Chultsova, politician Pavel Sevyarynets found themselves in the same situation.

In late June, the journalist was charged with high treason (Article 356-1 of the Criminal Code). In early September, he faced another charge; he was then accused of ‘tax evasion which caused large-scale damage’ (Part 2 of Article 243 of the Criminal Code). According to Alyaksandrau’s defence lawyer, his client refused to testify and flatly denied his guilt.

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