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RFE/RL President Condemns Ongoing Belarus Media Crackdown As Losik Marks 300 Days In Detention

Prominent blogger and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Belarus consultant Ihar Losik marks his 300th day in pre-trial detention.

A graphic about Ihar Losik that explains he has spent over 300 days in prison.
RFE/RL consultant Ihar Losik has spent 300 day in prison (April 21, 2021)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As prominent blogger and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Belarus consultant Ihar Losik marked his 300th day in pre-trial detention, RFE/RL President Jamie Fly renewed his call for Losik’s immediate release and an end to the Belarusian government’s crackdown on independent journalists.

Fly said, “Ihar Losik has been cruelly separated from his wife, his daughter, and his colleagues for far too long. Ihar must be freed from detention and allowed to rejoin his family. The Lukashenka government’s repressive campaign against independent journalists, including RFE/RL reporters and staff, must cease so they can continue their work to provide objective information to the people of Belarus.”

Losik’s detention was prominently noted in legislation passed yesterday (April 20) by the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his statement supporting the reimposition of sanctions on nine state-owned Belarusian companies on Monday (April 19). U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price, the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and LaborU.S. Helsinki CommissionTom Lantos Human Rights CommissionU.S. Congressman Bill Keating, Lithuanian Seimas Speaker Viktorija Cmilyte-NielsenU.S. Agency for Global Media, among others, have also called for Losik’s release.

Losik was detained on June 25, 2020, following a search of his apartment in the Belarusian city of Baranavichy. A prominent blogger, Losik has been accused by authorities of using his popular Telegram channel to “prepare to disrupt public order” ahead of the controversial August 9 presidential election in Belarus that longtime incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka claims to have won in a landslide amid allegations of widespread fraud. Since then, authorities have added unknown additional charges against Losik – who has started two hunger strikes to protest his detention.

In addition to Losik, numerous other RFE/RL journalists on assignment to report on the election and its aftermath have been harasseddetainedjailed, and stripped of their accreditations. On October 2, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry canceled the accreditations of all journalists working for foreign media organizations in the country. To date, no Belarusian nationals working for Western media outlets have been accredited under the new procedures.

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