Belarusian journalist sentenced to 8 years for ‘high treason’

Belsat journalist, Katsyaryna Andreyeva was due to be released on September 5, 2022, after spending nearly two years in a penal colony. In February this year, the Belarusian regime charged her with “high treason.” On Wednesday, Andreyeva was sentenced to eight years in prison by the regime.

On July 13, the Gomel District Court sentenced 28-year-old Belsat journalist Katsyaryna Andreyeva to eight years in prison. The trial was held behind closed doors, and the case was kept secret. The Investigative Committee forced Katsyaryna’s lawyer to sign a non-disclosure pledge and was not allowed to give away any circumstances of the trial, even to the defendant’s relatives. Even the husband of political prisoner Ihar Ilyash does not know what the alleged “treason” means. However, he is convinced that his wife is innocent.

On November 15, 2020, Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Belsat cameraman Darya Chultsova, who worked with her, were detained for reporting on the police’s brutal dispersal of the Raman Bandarenka memorial action at the so-called “Change Square” – where a young opposition supporter was beaten to death by officers in civilian clothes on the night of November 11-12, 2020. For their coverage of the rally, female journalists were charged with “organising and preparing actions that seriously violated public order.”

On February 18, 2021, the two women were sentenced to two years in a penal colony. Already behind bars, Katsyaryna and Darya were put on the register of people “prone to extremism and other destructive activities,” which further restricted their freedom and increased scrutiny by the prison administration.

De facto, Katsyaryna Andreyeva was sentenced to 10 years behind bars in total, as she had already spent nearly two years in detention and a penal colony before the regime initiated a new criminal case. She has been serving her sentence in Penal Colony No. 4 in Homiel. She was due to be released as early as September 5, 2022.

On February 10, Katsyaryna Andreyeva was taken without notice to the Homiel Detention Center. For 55 days, her family did not know under what charges she was taken into custody and what her legal status was. On April 7, relatives of the political prisoner learned that she had been charged with “high treason,” for which the criminal code stipulates a sentence of 7 to 15 years in prison.

On July 4, the first hearing in the new case against the Belsat journalist was held. According to the journalist’s husband, no details of the trial were known.

“Katsya Andreyeva is in prison solely because she is an independent journalist and was performing her journalistic duties. She was convicted for the TRUTH. One can only hope that Lukashenka’s regime will not last long and that all those responsible for the destruction of human life will answer for it. Behind bars in Belarusian prisons remain hundreds of innocent people sentenced to years of penal colonies. Let’s not forget about them!” Beata Krasicka, deputy director of Belsat commented.

Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova are among the 1,244 political prisoners of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime.

Belsat is a Poland-based free-to-air satellite television channel focused on Belarus. The channel is a subsidiary of TVP S.A. From its inception in 2007, it has been co-funded by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international donors.