On Friday 21 April, 2023 Belarusian prosecutor has demanded a 10-year prison sentence for journalist Raman Pratasevich (Раман Дзмітрыевіч Пратасевіч), along with a 19-year and a 20-year sentence in absentia for journalists Yan Rudzik (Ян Рудзік) and Stsypan Putsila (Сьцяпан Пуціла) respectively.
More than 10 separate charges, including organizing mass unrest, conspiracy to seize power, and incitement to hatred, have been filed against the journalists by authorities since the trial began on 16 February, 2023. They are also accused of insulting the president and creating an extremist group. In addition, the prosecutor has demanded a total compensation of 30 million BYN (around 11.9 million USD) from the journalists for the damage caused to the country.
The journalists were associated with the Telegram channels NEXTA and Belarus Golovnogo Mozga, which covered the protests against President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s (Аляксандр Лукашэнка).
Pratasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega were arrested on 23 May 2021 after a Ryanair flight from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania was diverted and forced to land in Belarus. Putsila and Rudzik are reportedly in Poland.
According to the independent Viasna rights group, there were on 27 April this year 1495 political prisoners in the country.
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