A journalist who worked for a Russian national daily was sentenced to three years in prison in Belarus on Thursday for an article mentioning the Belarusian security services (KGB), state media in this former Soviet republic, an ally of the Russia.
Journalist Gennady Mojeiko was found guilty of insulting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, as well as inciting national and social discord, according to the official BELTA news agency.
Minsk correspondent for the pro-Kremlin Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, Mojeiko published an article in 2021 on a firefight involving the local KGB and an information technology specialist - who was killed - in the Belarusian capital.
The journalist notably quoted a classmate of the computer specialist, who presented him in a favorable light, a publication which earned its author at the time a charge of "attempted laundering
for a criminal
In October 2021, the newspaper's office in Minsk was closed.
According to the Belarusian police, Mr. Mojeïko was arrested after being extradited from Russia where he had come in the hope of leaving for a third country.
Belarus, ruled with an iron fist by Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, has in recent years forced most of the media out of the country, while many independent journalists have been sentenced to heavy prison terms.
The conviction of Mr. Mojeïko comes less than a week after the announcement of the verdict in Minsk against two leaders of the independent information site Tut.by, who were sentenced to 12 years in prison, in full wave repression orchestrated by the Belarusian regime.
In early February, a Polish minority journalist and activist was sentenced in Belarus to eight years in prison.
Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected in 2020 after a presidential election deemed fraudulent, which had pushed tens of thousands of demonstrators into the streets.
The mass arrests, forced exiles and imprisonment of activists and journalists have broken this movement.
According to the Belarusian human rights center Viasna, the country currently has more than 1,400 political prisoners.