November 29, 2023

29.11.2023 – SEEMO Condemns Belarusian Court’s Verdict Against Journalist Viachaslau Lazarau

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) strongly condemns the recent verdict against Belarusian journalist Viachaslau Lazarau (Вячаслаў Лазараў). In a closed trial, the Supreme Court upheld a decision sentencing Lazarau to five years in prison for allegedly promoting extremist activity, reducing his original sentence by six months.

Lazarau’s wife, Tatsiana Pytsko (Таццяна Пыцько), initially sentenced to three years for the same charges, will now be released after the appeal, with the Supreme Court modifying her punishment to a three-year suspended sentence. The court’s decision provides a slight relief for Pytsko, who spent nearly six months in the Vitsebsk pretrial detention center.

Viachaslau Lazarau and Tatsiana Pytsko were convicted on 25 September 2023 for their association with the Belsat TV ( channel, labeled extremist by Belarusian authorities. Lazarau, a Vitsebsk, Belarus freelancer, had been in detention since 9 February 2023, following a house search that led to the confiscation of his office equipment.

Tatsiana Pytsko, arrested on 6 June 2023, while on maternity leave caring for their one-year-old daughter, faced a traumatic separation as the child was placed in a local children’s hospital until relatives could collect her. Pytsko’s ex-husband took the responsibility for their two older children.

SEEMO condemns this steps by the state against Viachaslau Lazarau and Tatsiana Pytsko. SEEMO calls for the immediate release of Viachaslau Lazarau and Tatsiana Pytsko, urging Belarusian authorities to respect press freedom and journalists’ right to work without fear of persecution. SEEMO stands in solidarity with all journalists facing repression and censorship in Belarus.

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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