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Statement on the recognition of political prisoner and journalist Alena Cimaščuk

Last update: 14 June 2024
Statement on the recognition of political prisoner and journalist Alena Cimaščuk

Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights community

June 13, 2024

On June 3, 2024, the Brest Regional Court sentenced journalist Alena Cimaščuk to 5 years of imprisonment and imposed a fine of 46,000 Belarusian rubles (more than 13,000 euros). The court found the journalist guilty under three articles of the Criminal Code: discrediting the Republic of Belarus (Article 369-1 of the Criminal Code), inciting hatred or enmity (Part 3 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code), participation in an extremist formation (Part 3 of Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code).

Alena Cimaščuk is a journalist of Brest Regional Television and Radio Company, who previously worked as a freelancer with the regional publications Vecherniy BrestBrestskiy KurierBrestskaya Gazeta, the online publication Virtual Brest, as well as Brest Green Portal.

We, the undersigned organizations, believe that these actions against Alena Cimaščuk are a continuation of the purposeful policy of the authorities to limit the dissemination of uncensored information in the country and a continuation of the attack on freedom of speech. After the 2020 presidential election, dozens of NGO and media websites have been blocked in Belarus, a number of printed media has been closed, journalists and employees of the Belarusian media sector have been imprisoned.

Given the circumstances, we believe that criminal prosecution of Alena Cimaščuk is actually politically motivated and aimed at stopping or changing the nature of her legitimate public activities in the domain of non-violent exercise of freedom of expression and dissemination of information.

Based on this and guided by para. 2.1 and 3.1 of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners adopted at III Belarusian Human Rights Forum, we, human rights defenders, recognize Alena Cimaščuk as political prisoner and call on the Belarusian authorities to:

  • immediately release Alena Cimaščuk and drop criminal charges against her;
  • refrain from using criminal prosecution as an instrument of pressure on freedom of expression, or other rights and freedoms;
  • immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression in the country.

Belarusian Association of Journalists;

Human Rights Center Viasna;

Legal initiative;

Human Constanta;


PEN Belarus;

Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House;

Belarusian Helsinki Committee.