DW Akademie trainer Andrei Aliaksandrau charged with high treason in Belarus  | Europe/Central Asia | DW | 02.07.2021
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Europe/Central Asia

DW Akademie trainer Andrei Aliaksandrau charged with high treason in Belarus 

DW Akademie is deeply concerned that its long-time trainer, Andrei Aliaksandrau, has been charged with high treason in Belarus and now faces up to 15 years in prison.

Carsten von Nahmen, Managing Director of DW Akademie, condemned the charge as "absolutely unfounded" and urged the government of Belarus to immediately free Aliaksandrau as well as several other media professionals currently in custody in the Eastern European country.  

Detained in January 2021 with his partner Irina Zlobina, Aliaksandrau was originally accused of organizing actions that grossly violate public order. He was due for release later this month. The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reports that the new charge has left Aliaksandrau "shocked", according to his lawyer. The case marks an escalation in Belarus’ draconian crackdown on press freedom and human rights activism. 

DW MA-Bild Carsten von Nahmen

Carsten von Nahmen - Managing Director of DW Akademie

"Belarusian journalists are under unprecedented pressure and repressions have intensified since the presidential election last year," says von Nahmen. Colleagues have been prevented from doing their work. Websites have been blocked, and refusals to print and revocations of accreditation have become commonplace for media organizations in Belarus. Independent journalists have been detained on the streets while reporting from rallies and are no longer protected, even when identifying themselves as members of the press. There are also reports that members of the media are being targeted by security forces.  

"Journalism is not a crime"

"It is crucial that the Belarus government stops the harassment of journalists as well as media outlets and organizations", says von Nahmen. "The people of Belarus need independent information to make free, educated decisions. Journalism is not a crime but a vital service for democratic societies."  

The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reports that journalists this year have had more than 130 encounters with security forces, including attacks and detentions. In 2020, media professionals were detained 477 times and spent a total of 1,200 days behind bars. Among those initially detained was Alexander Burakov, a DW correspondent. In May 2021 he was sentenced to 20 days in prison. 

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