“Belarusian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release journalist Aliaksandr Ivulin and let all members of the press work freely and safely,” Gulnoza Said, CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator, said.
“Ivulin’s case shows that authorities will use any excuse to punish members of the press who dare to cover protests or other newsworthy events that the government prefers be kept quiet,” the statement published in the CPJ website says.
“Ivulin covers soccer for Tribuna, Belarus’s largest independent sports news website, and also runs the soccer-focused YouTube channel ChestnOK, which has about 75,000 subscribers, according to Tribuna director Maksim Berazinsky, who spoke to CPJ in late 2021, and CPJ research. Berazinsky told CPJ he believed ChestnOK’s interviews with athletes who supported the 2020 protests against Aleksandr Lukashenko, coupled with Ivulin’s popularity on the channel, prompted his June 3, 2021, arrest,” the authors write.
The verdict against Alexander Ivulin was announced yesterday. He was charged under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code. According to the indictment, on August 23 and September 29, 2020, Ivulin took part in group actions that grossly violate public order, and also organized such actions by posting videos on the YouTube channel since August 7, 2020. Minsktrans sued Ivulin for 39 thousand rubles ($15,000) for the damage caused.