Belarus has handed long jail terms to senior staff at the country’s largest independent news site, which was forced to close after historic demonstrations against strongman Alexander Lukashenko over two years ago.
The verdicts are the latest in a crackdown on journalists, opposition figures and activists who challenged Lukashenko’s claim that he won a sixth presidential term in 2020.
A court in Minsk on Friday sentenced the editor-in-chief of the Tut.by portal, Marina Zolotova, 45, and general director Lyudmila Chekina, 54, to 12 years each behind bars.
The women faced a raft of charges including tax evasion – which critics say is regularly used as a pretext to silence dissent – and “incitement to hatred”.
Exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who Lukashenko critics say won the presidential election, condemned the long jail terms.