It was one more article, article, too, without doubt, in the eyes of the belarusian authorities. On 25 march, three days after the publication of an editorial calling into question the statistics of the coronavirus in the former soviet republic, Sergei Satsouk, editor-in-chief of the online journal Ejednevnikwas arrested in the company of his wife, at the time when he was about to go shopping in a diy store. Released nine days later, he risks ten years in prison.
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Sergei Satsouk was probably the wrong to criticize the health care policies of president Alexander Lukashenko. In power for 26 years, the ruler of this small country landlocked between Russia, Ukraine and Poland, has refused to take measures of social distancing and minimize the risks associated with the pandemic, while taking to the media accused of fuelling the fears. “Who sows panic on the coronavirus, the president or the websites and TV channels ? “, asked in return Sergei Satsouk to a d’Ejednevnik.
An investigative journalist famous
His arrest has sent to the passage, a signal to his fellow belarusians, but also to the nursing staff that one would venture to call in question the official version of a little cold under control. “This criminalization of journalism in Belarus creates a climate of self-censorship is unacceptable “warns Jeanne Cavelier, head of the office eastern Europe and central Asia at Reporters without borders.
Old road of journalism in belarus, Sergei Satsouk, 51 years, knew that he was in the crosshairs of the authorities since the publication of a survey in 2019, which revealed how the ministry of health makes money by selling the blood of donors. The article had led to a series of arrests within the administration. It had also earned its author a series of threats that had emerged by the opening of an investigation for ” kickbacks “. This is the name of this case that this investigative journalist known for his serious risk ten years in prison.
The repression is intensifying
The prosecution of Sergei Satsouk have preceded a series of sentences of fines or short prison sentences against journalists covering the coronavirus or the presidential campaign. “The power that observes the rising discontent increases the pressure on the profession from the perspective of the presidential election of August 9,”note, from Minsk, the belarusian journalist Elena Daneiko.
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According to media reports, the opponents. In may and June, two presidential candidates were arrested and sentenced to fifteen days in prison in order to prevent them from being present. A third, the ex-banker, Viktor Babaryko, was interviewed Thursday June 18, by the police, that is, twenty-four hours before the publication of the list of candidates allowed to stand in the face of the omnipotent Alexander Lukashenko.