April 24, 2024

24.04.2024 – SEEMO Condemns Verdict Against Journalist Anastasia Matsiash

On 19 April 2024, the City Court in Minsk (Мінск), Belarus, delivered its verdict in the case of Anastasia Matsiash (Анастасія Мацяш), a supposed employee of the Belsat TV channel (https://belsat.eu/en), on charges of involvement in an “extremist formation.” According to the court’s ruling, from June 2021 to November 2023, Matsiash allegedly served as a language consultant for Telewizja Polska (TVP – https://www.tvp.pl/), which encompasses the Polish TV channel Belsat. The court concluded that Matsiash provided linguistic services to Belsat, designated as an extremist organization, including translations, proofreading, and editing of texts, which were subsequently utilized in Belsat’s purported extremist activities, including dissemination through mass media and the internet. Consequently, she was identified by the court as a member of this alleged “extremist formation.”

For her involvement in “extremist activities,” Matsiash allegedly received “criminal income” totaling 40,000 PLN, 12,258 USD, and 8,575 EUR.

She was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in a general regime colony and fined 500 basic amounts, amounting to 20,000 RUB (200.96 EUR) Her personal computer and mobile phone were also confiscated.

Additionally, she was deprived of 102,415 RUB (1,029.11 EUR) as income obtained by criminal means.

It’s crucial to note that the verdict is subject to appeal, and Anastasia Matsiash did not confess to the accusations leveled against her. The legal process surrounding this case underscores the complexities and sensitivities surrounding freedom of expression and the role of media in society.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) strongly condemns the verdict issued by the Minsk City Court against Anastasia Matsiash, allegedly affiliated with Belsat TV channel, on charges of participating in an allegedly “extremist formation.” This verdict represents a blatant attack on freedom of expression and media independence. SEEMO urges Belarusian authorities to respect fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of speech, and calls for the immediate release of Anastasia Matsiash. Such actions undermine democracy and the rule of law in the region, and SEEMO stands in solidarity with all journalists and media workers facing unjust persecution for their professional activities.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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