Poland Summons Belarusian Diplomat Over Journalist’s Imprisonment

The Polish Foreign Ministry summoned a Belarusian charge d’affaires after Belarus sentenced a journalist for Polish broadcaster Belsat TV in Belarus to five years in jail.

Polish Ministry spokesperson Lukasz Jasina said on Thursday that officials summoned the Belarusian diplomat because journalist Iryna Slaunikava “is not only an employee of Polish Television but one of those journalists who fight for peace and the rule of law in Belarus.”

On Wednesday, a court in Belarus found Slaunikava guilty of “leading an extremist group and organizing activities that disrupted social order” and sentenced her to jail.

Radio Free Europe reported Slaunikava denied the charges.

Slaunikava, a former correspondent for Belsat TV who went on trial in June, was first arrested with her husband, Alyaksandr Loyka, in late October for “distribution of extremist materials” and “minor hooliganism,” and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

The Belarusian government has continued its crackdown on independent media following mass protests against self-declared authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka in a disputed presidential election two years ago.

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