Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska, the director of the Watch Docs Film Festival in Belarus, has been released from prison and charges against her have been dropped by human rights organizations and festivals after an international outcry this week.
Hatsura-Yavorska was arrested for the first time on April 5 for organizing an underground photo exhibition to celebrate health workers. She was first fined 700 Belarusian rubles for “protesting against the police” and taken to a detention center in Minsk. Organizations such as the Human Rights Film Network said she was a political prisoner and was being held with hundreds of others following government crackdown on local unrest.
She should be tried in court on Thursday (April 15th) after a maximum of 10 days in detention. The charges of “raising funds for protests” were awaited. Those close to her feared that she could spend several years in prison. However, following widespread support from the international community, with festivals such as Sundance and Berlin being published calling for her release, . can confirm that she has been released and is currently not on criminal charges.
Film festivals and human rights organizations are calling for the detained Belarusian festival director Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska to be released
Volodymyr Yavorski, Hatsura-Yavorska’s husband, had to flee Belarus and now lives abroad with the couple’s children. According to the sources, he was told by the authorities to leave the country or go to prison himself. Yavorski is also a human rights activist and founder of the Ukrainian human rights film festival Docudays UA. It is understood that he will not be able to return to Belarus for a period of 10 years.
Belarus has been in the midst of political upheaval since a controversial election last summer. President Alexander Lukashenko claimed he won a landslide victory to secure a sixth term. The election result has been questioned by foreign governments and NGOs. There has been local crackdown on members of the opposition party, with some imprisoned and others fled the country, while protests have led to more than 600 other arrests.