Belarus puts jailed TUT.BY director and editor-in-chief on “extremist” list
The Belarusian authorities have added the jailed editor and manager of the now closed news website TUT.BY to their list of “extremists.” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) denounces the persecution of these prominent figures and the absurdity of this decision by a government that treats independent journalists as terrorists.
TUT.BY editor Maryna Zolatava and manager Liudmila Chekina were among the 28 critics and opponents who were added to the Lukashenko government’s list of “extremists" on 18 August. Those on the list, which now has 3,157 names, are banned from playing any kind of public role in Belarusian society. The police can also monitor all of their financial transactions and follow them when they are released from prison.
“In Belarus, the Lukashenko government uses the ‘extremist’ label to discredit anyone who dares to question its propaganda. Its unrelenting persecution of Maryna Zolatava and Liudmila Chekina is extraordinary. We reiterate our appeal to the international community to exert pressure to obtain their release and the release of the 33 other journalists imprisoned in Belarus.
Zolatava and Chekina are being persecuted because of their exemplary work at the head of the independent news site TUT.BY. Detained ever since the police raided TUT.BY headquarters and the homes of several of its staff members on 18 May 2021, they were sentenced to 12 years in prison on 17 March 2023 at the end of a sham trial. The supreme court rejected their appeal on 31 July.
Belarus has a shamefully low ranking in RSF's 2023 World Press Freedom Index – 157th out of 180 countries.