PPF seeks fair trial of detained Belarusian bloggers
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), in a letter to President Alexander Lukashenkoof Belarus, expressed concern over the arrest of bloggers Yury Paulavets and DzmitryAlimkin.
PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali urged the government of Belarus to properly investigate the charges against Paulavets and Alimkin, and ensure they get a fair hearing. The letter also emphasized the need to end the crackdown against media professionals, activists and writers by the Belarusian authorities.
Alimkin, a school supervisor in the southwestern city of Brest, and Paulavets, a university professor in Minsk, were arrested on 6 December, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ).
They are facing up to 12 years in prison on charges of “inciting racial hatred” in their posts on the Russian news websites Regnum, Lenta.ru and EA Daily, authored by Paulavets (pennames Mikalay Radau and Pavel Yuryntsau) and Alimkin (penname Alla Bron).
Paulavets’ posts accused the government of stirring up anti-Russian sentiment in order to divert the public’s attention from economic problems. Alimkin questioned the existence of a Belarusian nation and called for unification with Russia.
Since the war in Ukraine and Crimea’s annexation, the Belarusian government has become increasingly concerned about the influence of Russia’s leading media on Belarusian public opinion.
The authorities have nonetheless insisted that they make no distinction between pro-Russian and anti-Russian comments, reported Reporters Without Borders. Eduard Palchys, a young blogger, was sentenced to 21 months of “surveillance” on 28 October for criticizing Russian foreign policy in his blog posts.
PPF urged the authorities in Belarus to ensure that the two detained bloggers get a fair and impartial hearing and to uphold its commitment to free expression.