‘I saw sky, sun for first time in six months’. Belsat TV journo Katsyaryna Andreyeva sends first letter from penal colony

On Friday, Ihar Ilyash, the husband of imprisoned Belsat TV journalist Katsyaryna Andreyeva, has received the first letter after her being placed in the women’s colony in Homiel.

Каtsyaryna Andreyeva in court. Мinsk, 18 February 2021. Photo: Belsat

According to the political prisoner, she arrived at penal colony Nr 4 on the morning of May 22. Then she saw the sky, the sun, flowers for the first time in the past six months, which turned to be the most important impression on her first day in the colony, Katsyaryna writes.

“For the first time in six months, I was just walking on the paving asphalt, and there was this huge blue dome with fluffy clouds above my head!” she said in the letter.

Katsyaryna does not seem to have any health issues, she is trying to stay positive.

As of today, there is no exact information about the whereabouts of Darya Chultsova, another convicted journalist.

This week, Ihar Ilyash was informed that his wife was transferred to the penal colony in Homiel, where she would serve the term. On May 19, she was transported to the pre-trial detention centre in Mahiliou.

Before the transfer to Mahiliou, Belsat TV contributors Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova had been held in the remand prison in Zhodzina over the past two months; the prison authorities listed them as ‘persons prone to extremism’. In late April, Minsk City Court rejected their appeals, upholding the sentences imposed on them.

You can support our journalist with the help of your letters and telegrams:

Кацярыне Бахвалавай (Андрэевай)

ПК №4, вул. Антошкіна, 3

246035, г. Гомель, Беларусь

Katsyaryna Bakhvalava (Andreyeva)

Penal colony Nr 4, Antoshkin Street 3

246035 Homiel, Belarus

The two Belsatters have been behind bars for over six months.

Life of jailed journalists Katsya Andreyeva and Dasha Chultsova in letters

They 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. 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).

Their 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 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 judge Natallya Buhuk took heed of the prosecution’s opinion.

On November 24, Belarusian human rights watchdogs recognised Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova as political prisoners.

Story of imprisoned Belsat journalists Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova