Two Belarusian journalists have been sentenced to two years in prison for covering protests against President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s government.
A court in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, ruled that the two women had disrupted public order.
27-year-old Katerina Bachvalova and 23-year-old Daria Chulsova work for Belsat, a Belarusian medium operating from Poland. The women were arrested last November after reporting protests over the death of activist Roman Bondarenko.
The reporters filmed, among other things, how the police arrested dozens of protesters. According to the judge, the women themselves set up the protests they filmed. Bachvalova and Tsultsova say they are innocent.
Activist Bondarenko died in hospital in November after he was severely beaten by security forces, according to activists. The Belarusian Ministry of the Interior has denied responsibility. The government stated that Bondarenko was drunk at the time of his death. Another journalist will be in court on Friday for contradicting this claim.
Belarus has faced protests against the president almost every week since the presidential election on August 9 last year. After the controversial elections, 66-year-old Lukashenko declared himself the winner with more than 80 percent of the vote after being in power for 26 years.
Opposition to the president sees opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as the winner. She fled to Lithuania.