Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy: This is a black day in the history of Belarus and Belsat

Today’s conviction for journalists Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova is an eloquent proof that political terror in Belarus is on the rise. It is also an unprecedented event in the history of Belsat. This is a black day.

It turns out that this is no longer “ordinary journalism.” Our journalists have to behave as if they are at war and suffer tangible losses. They pay with their personal freedom to get through with the free word.

I will do my best to wake up the free world, including the European Union, so that politicians can take real steps and not just utter words of indignation at what is happening in Belarus.

I assess the measures taken so far very critically, more as a pretense and hypocrisy. For now, it is difficult to talk about any real pressure on the regime. It is also no secret that Vladimir Putin provides real support to the Belarusian dictatorship, and he must also be linked to the systemic changes in Belarus.

Unfortunately, I still see that the free world gets used to the fact that every now and then a journalist in Belarus gets arrested for a few days… Well, that’s how it should be. It’s normal. I hope that today’s sentence of two years in jail for our journalists will change this trend. Belarus is not on the antipodes, it’s not an island in the middle of the ocean. It is a country in the center of Europe, not only not far from Warsaw or Vilnius, but also not much farther from Berlin.

Today’s trials in Belarus are reminiscent of the times of deep martial law in Poland. Back then, indeed, the sentences were very long. Fortunately, most of the prisoners got out early. In his last statement, reacting to the prosecutor’s demand for 8 years in prison, my late father said that the former had unrealistic expectations, because the PRL would not last that long. And he really was right. And whether our girls will really serve two years in prison also depends on the determination and commitment of Belarusians.

Thus, it is also worth telling our Belarusian friends to hold on, because the future of their country is in their hands, no matter what we do from the outside.

I am grateful to the lawyers who defended our journalists. Unlike the defense lawyers at the communist political trials in Poland, attorneys Alyaksandr Khayetski and Syarhei Zikratski are young people. Then the defendants were represented by experienced Stalinist lawyers. However, these young Belarusian lawyers have already written a glorious page in the history of the Belarusian legal profession.

What happened today is not the end of the struggle for the free speech and free Belarus. The struggle goes on.