Aleh Hruzdzilovich, Andrey Kuznechyk, and Ihar Losik, 2022 winner
RFE/RL recognizes Aleh Hruzdzilovich, Andrey Kuznechyk, and Ihar Losik for their unwavering commitment to journalism. They are defending the right of their fellow Belarusians to free media and free expression in the face of physical threats and police violence sanctioned by the Belarusian government of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Aleh Hruzdzilovich is an award-winning journalist for RFE/RL’s Belarus Service who provided eyewitness coverage of the mass protests against Belarus’ flawed August 2020 presidential election and subsequent months-long crackdown against regime opponents. He served a 15-day sentence in November 2020 and a 10-day sentence in July 2021 for his activities as an accredited journalist. Hruzdzilovich was again arrested on December 23, 2021, and sentenced to 18 months in prison in March 2022 on charges that he consistently rejected. Hruzdzilovich was released in September 2022 after serving nine months of his unjust sentence, and left Belarus to join his Belarus Service colleagues in exile in Lithuania.
Andrey Kuznechyk, a web editor for the Belarus Service, was first arrested on November 25, 2021, while on a bike ride near his home in Minsk. After serving two consecutive 10-day administrative sentences for “hooliganism,” Belarusian authorities opened a criminal case on unspecified charges against him on December 23, 2021. The charges against Kuznechyk remained unknown until late May 2022, when it was revealed that he had been charged with “creating or participating in an extremist organization.” On June 8, 2022, Belarusian authorities sentenced Kuznechyk to six years in prison.
Ihar Losik has been imprisoned since his arrest on June 25, 2020 on charges widely considered to have been fabricated by Belarusian authorities including “organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order,” and “preparation for participation in riots.” Following a five-month, closed-door trial with five other co-defendants, Losik—a prominent blogger, former RFE/RL Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow, and Belarus Service journalist—was sentenced on December 14, 2021, to 15 years in prison.