Journalists Milana Kharytonava and Ales Lyauchuk got the top award for the series of articles about protesting against the construction of a battery factory in Brest.
It is the tenth time that the journalistic contest has been held by the Homiel branch of the Belarusian Association of Journalists. It is dedicated to the memory of the journalist and publisher Uladzimir Verbavikou.
In the winter of 2018, Brest residents started protesting against the construction and launch of a hazardous battery factory by the iPower company in the Brest free economic zone. They feared that the facility may adversely affect the environment in the region. Although almost 40,000 signatures against the construction were collected, the city authorities remained dismissive of the petition and the project has been completed. Almost every Sunday people have held peaceful protest rallies; in turn, the local police detained some participants as the city authorities outlawed the protests. In most cases, the people just fed pigeons or carried baloons. Although the launch of the plant that was to have started operating in August, 2018 was suspended, the locals continue struggling.
Ales Lyauchuk and Milana Kharytonava have been repeatedly spotted covering the protests and interviewing locals. The crew has already had many trials over making reports about the situation in Brest.
“Milana and I spent much of the last year living and working under real pressure. The police detained us in the streets, kept the watch near our block of flats and school our daughter attends. They were trying to break into our apartment, lots of protocols have been drawn upon us – it is very difficult to work and live under such pressure. But we keep doing our best!” Lyauchuk told Belsat.
Earlier, Belsatters Alyaksandr Barazenka, Yauhen Merkis, Kastus Zhukouski, Natallya Kryvashey, Larysa Shchyrakova, Tatsyana Bublikava and Aleh Razhkou became laureates of For Devotion To Profession contest.