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Belarusian Journalist Jailed for 3 Years for Critical Coverage of KGB

Gennady Mozheyko in court. Vitaly Pivovovarchik / BelTA

A court in Belarus sentenced a journalist to three years in prison on Thursday for writing an article critical of the authoritarian country's powerful KGB secret police, state-run media reported.

Moscow-aligned Belarus, ruled by President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, has forced most independent media into exile, while critical journalists who remain in the country have been jailed.

Reporter Gennady Mozheyko was found guilty of insulting Lukashenko, as well as inciting national and social discord, the state news agency BELTA reported.

Mozheyko worked in the Minsk offices of the pro-Kremlin Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda and became the focus of a probe after a 2021 article he wrote about a shootout involving the KGB in Minsk.

At the time, Belarusian police said Mozheyko fled to Russia hoping to travel to a third country but was deported back to Belarus, where he was later arrested.

Komsomolskaya Pravda closed its Minsk offices after his arrest.

Mozheyko's sentencing came less than a week after Belarus sentenced two senior staff of, once the country's largest independent news website, to 12 years in prison.

Last month, Belarus also sentenced a Polish-Belarusian journalist to eight years in prison for his critical reporting of Lukashenko.

According to the rights group Viasna, there are currently 1,454 political prisoners in Belarus.

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