News

Activists picket Belarus Paris embassy over jailed journalist

By AFP

November 6, 2023 06:29 PM


 

Reporters Without Borders staged a protest outside the Belarus embassy in Paris on Monday in support of journalist Marina Zolotova, who is serving a long prison term for what supporters say is punishment for her work.

Zolotova, chief editor of tut.by, the largest Belarusian independent online media, was sentenced in March to 12 years in prison on charges of inciting hatred and calling for actions "aimed at harming national security". She turned 46 on Monday.

More than a dozen activists from the NGO, which promotes press freedom, as well as the journalist's husband and two children gathered outside the Belarusian embassy in western Paris, and attached postcards urging Zolotova's release to the gates of the diplomatic mission.

According to Reporters Without Borders, known by its French acronym RSF, Belarus is the "third-largest prison for journalists", with 36 media professionals behind bars.

The Minsk regime has brutally put down protests against the re-election in 2000 of strongman Alexander Lukashenko to a sixth term, jailing hundreds and forcing most critics into exile.

RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire said that it was important to stand up for the rights of persecuted journalists even if the world's attention had shifted away from the crackdown in Belarus to conflicts elsewhere.

"The repression in Belarus is forgotten repression," Deloire said from outside the embassy.

The jailed journalist's husband, Vasily Kishkurno, said he was not hopeful that Zolotova would be released any time soon.

"There is no dialogue whatsoever," he said, referring to the Belarusian authorities.

He added that Russia's assault on Ukraine had further complicated matters for political prisoners in Belarus.

"Compared to Ukraine, our problems are minor," he said.

Kishkurno and their two children -- aged 17 and 20 -- now live in Warsaw.

Belarus became more isolated internationally after Lukashenko allowed the Kremlin to use its territory as a launchpad for Moscow's Ukraine offensive.

Embassy staff did not speak to the protesters and instead contacted the police, according to RSF. Four police officers arrived at the scene but left shortly after.



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