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Belarusian Journalist, Wife, Colleague Handed Prison Terms Over Reporting On Border Crisis.

Belarusian journalist Dzmitry Luksha and his wife, Palina Palavinka were sentenced to four and 2 1/2 years, respectively.

Belarusian journalist Dzmitry Luksha and his wife, Palina Palavinka were sentenced to four and 2 1/2 years, respectively.

MINSK -- A court in Minsk has sentenced journalist Dzmitry Luksha; his wife, Palina Palavinka; and cameraman Dzyanis Yarouski for their reporting on a migrants' crisis along the Belarusian-Polish border last year.

The Minsk City Court on December 2 sentenced Luksha, a freelance correspondent for Kazakhstan's Khabar 24 television channel, and Palavinka to four and 2 1/2 years in prison, respectively, after finding them guilty of discrediting Belarus and "actively participating in group activities that blatantly disrupt social order."

Yarouski was sentenced to 18 months in prison on the same charges.

A fourth defendant in the case, Kanstantsin Nikanorau, was handed a parole-like sentence on a charge of discrediting Belarus.

The charges against the four stemmed from Luksha's video reports from the Belarusian-Polish border for Khabar 24.

The reports covered the situation along the border, where thousands of migrants mostly from the Middle East tried to illegally enter EU-member Poland from Belarusian territory.

European nations have condemned the authoritarian ruler of Belarus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, for masterminding the crisis in response to Western sanctions imposed on him over an ongoing crackdown on dissent and independent media that followed his disputed win in a 2020 presidential election.

Separately on December 2, the Minsk City Court started the trial of another journalist, Henadz Mazheyka, who is accused of insulting Lukashenka and inciting hatred over his report about a police shootout at a Minsk apartment last year that left an IT worker and a KGB officer dead.

Little is known about the September 2021 shooting that resulted in the deaths of Andrey Zeltsar, who worked for U.S.-based IT company EPAM, and KGB officer Dzmitry Fedasyuk.

Multiple individuals have received prison terms in recent months on charges related to comments about the incident.

Mazheyka pleaded not guilty.

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