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Female Belarusian journalists given two-year prison sentences for live coverage of pro-democracy protests

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A court in Belarus on Thursday sentenced two female Belarusian journalists to two years in prison on charges of violating public order after they reported live from a rally in Minsk in November.

The prosecutor of Minsk’s District Court found Katerina Andreeva (Bakhalova), 27, and Daria Chultsova, 23, – journalists from the Polish independent media outlet Belsat TV -, guilty of “organizing public events aimed at disrupting civil order.”

The two women were arrested in November while covering a rally commemorating Raman Bandarenka, an opposition protester who died in police custody after being beaten by a group of masked assailants during protests against long-time ruler Aleksander Lukashenko, and then arrested by Belarusian authorities. 

Reacting to the ruling, Belarus opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said that “the world must see this lawlessness and state terror by Lukashenka.” 

“Imprisoned journalists, politicians, activists, students, doctors, peaceful protesters, even kids,” Tikhanovskaya, who has been recognised as the legitimate President of Belarus, tweeted on Thursday, urging the public to raise awareness over the situation in the country. 

“You know, this is a message to journalists: either you’re with the regime, or you’re in jail,”  she also told Current Time in a video interview.  

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