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Independent Press in Belarus Render homepages Sterile in solidarity with jailed journalists

A number of Belarus’ top independent websites left the pictures in their homepages sterile on Thursday in a show of solidarity with supporters that they said were imprisoned in the nation.

They posted banners concerning the prison sentences of photojournalists Uladz Hrydzin and Alyaksandr Vasyukovich.

“There ought to have been a photo. Photojournalists Alyaksandr Vasyukovich and Uladz Hrydzin obtained 11-day prison terms,” read the primary image on the site of Belsat — a Polish free-to-air satellite TV station aimed at Belarus.

A number of the independent media who featured the banner ads in their homepages, such as RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty’s Belarus service, also published articles stating Hrydzin was arrested in Minsk on September 13.

RFE/RL stated the photographer was correspondent for the business at Minsk before he had been stripped of his certification on August 29.

Hrydzin’s fellow photojournalist, freelancer Vasyukovich, was also arrested, according to the separate media accounts.

The posts said the guys were on Wednesday sentenced to 11 times in prison on September 16 once they had been”found guilty of violating Belarus’s legislation on mass parties”.

A third person, a friend of both photographers, Yahoo Kalyahin, was fined 540 rubles ($177) from the Frunze district court on precisely the same charge, according to the posts.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an NGO that advocates for media freedom, stated at the beginning of September that over 60 journalists were detained in Belarus, and 19 was stripped of the accreditations.

Authorities in Minsk detained around 50 journalists in the area of a couple of hours on the night of August 27, with an initial wave of arrests at approximately 6 pm at Svoboda Square where reporters had accumulated before an anti-government protest, according to RSF.

“RSF sees these steps within an unwarranted attempt to intimidate journalists and gag the press,” the organization said in a statement.

The unrest broke out in Belarus following the August 9 presidential elections that officials state lent Lukashenko the sixth semester with 80 percent support, but the opposition claims that the results had been rigged.

The EU parliament on Thursday passed a non-binding settlement to impose sanctions on Lukashenko over his contested re-election and violence committed against protesters.