Journalists Semchanka and Mazheika sentenced to 3 years in prison for inciting enmity
On March 23, in separate hearings, Minsk Municipal Court sentenced Dzmitry Semchanka, a former All-national TV anchor, and Komsomolskaya Pravda correspondent Henadz Mazheika to three years in prison for "inciting enmity" against public officials.
Dzmitry Semchanka and his wife Yulia, also a certified journalist, were originally arrested on 15 September 2022 for “sharing content of extremist Telegram channels”. Since the family is raising a minor son, the mother got off with an administrative fine, and Dzmitry was detained for 15 days for “disorderly conduct”.
Semchanka was not released on time, and new reports were drawn up against him, so he spent over 40 days in detention, only to be charged later with a criminal case. Human rights activists declared him a political prisoner.
Dzmitry Semchanka worked as a special correspondent and political observer at the All-National TV from 2009 to 2020. For all his merits he was trusted to lead the “presidential pool” of Aliaksandr Lukashenka's closest media entourage.
However, in August 2020 he publicly condemned the unprecedented brutality of the law enforcers and left the TV channel in protest. In September 2020, his house was raided and he was detained for 15 days for participating in protests.
Henadz Mazheika was detained on the night of October 2. According to the journalist's mother, on October 1, KGB officers searched her son's apartment for two and a half hours. The sanction referred to Articles 130 and 369 of the Criminal Code (“inciting racial, national, religious, or other social hatred or discord and insulting a government official”).
On September 29, after the publication of an article about Andrei Zeltser, the Ministry of Information of Belarus blocked access to the website kp.by. According to the agency's comment, the decision was made since the publication published information “that contributes to the formation of sources of threats to national security”.