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Journalist Andrei Tolchyn receives prison sentence

2024 2024-03-22T15:13:24+0300 2024-03-22T15:14:43+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Andrei Tolchyn

Andrei Tolchyn

On 21 March, the Homieĺ Regional Court sentenced political prisoner and freelance journalist Andrei Tolchyn on charges of “promoting extremist activities” (Part 1, Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code) and “libeling Aliaksandr Lukashenka” (Part 2, Article 367 of the Criminal Code). The case was heard by Judge Dzmitry Kazlou.

Andrei Tolchyn founded the Homieĺ city newspaper Gomelskiye Vedomosti and works with several independent publications as a freelance journalist. Tolchyn has been repeatedly detained and tried for his journalistic activities since 2017. He decided to leave his profession after the 2020 protests.

Tolchyn was arrested in Homieĺ on 27 September 2023. The next day, law enforcement officials searched his home and seized computer equipment and other digital media. Andrei was taken into custody and criminally charged.

There were reports before the trial that he was also accused of “discrediting Belarus” (Article 369-1 of the Criminal Code), but the court did not consider this charge.

Tolchyn is 64 years old and suffers from several chronic illnesses. He was arrested along with journalist Larysa Shchyrakova in 2020 for covering the protests, which was considered participation in mass unrest. The journalist was also detained in 2021 while filming relatives of political prisoners Mikalai Statkevich and Ihar Losik, who came to a detention center for the trial in their case on 24 June 2021.

The prosecution demanded three years’ imprisonment for Tolchyn.

The trial began on 5 March and Andrei Tolchyn was found guilty and sentenced to two years and six months’ imprisonment in a general-regime correctional facility.

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