Two journalists of the Belarusian TV channel Belsat, Katerina Bakhvalova and Daria Chultsova, were sentenced to two years in prison for live streaming protests from the Square of Changes in Minsk.
As reported by the news outlet TUT. BY, it took only three days for the Frunzen District Court of Minsk to hear the case. Bakhvalova and Chultsova were found guilty of "organizing and preparing actions that grossly violate public order".
On November 15, 2020, the Belsat journalists were broadcasting live from the apartment building across from a spontaneous rally in memory of the artist Roman Bondarenko killed by the security forces. They were detained in the evening of the same day. Bakhvalova and Chultsova were held in in pre-trial detention center for 3 months.
The court declined they appeal to reduce the sentence. The court also ordered to destroy four diaries, stickers, white-red-white fabric and confiscate the equipment and journalist vests.
During the court hearings, none of the prosecution witnesses confirmed that it was the actions of the journalists that led to the rally.
"In fact, we found that Katerina Bakhvalova was doing her work as a journalist. Because of that she and Daria Chultsova have been behind bars for more than three months. We believe that the actions of Bakhvalova and Chultsova do not constitute a crime," said their lawyer Sergei Sikratsky.