The Erased font


Olga Loiko
  • CountryBelarus

In 2021 I was Chief Editor of the Politics and Economics section of the most popular online news platform in Belarus: The website was read by 65% of all Belarussian Internet users with around 200 million monthly visits. After the 2020 presidential elections were falsified by the authorities, mass protests started to arise in the country. The authorities believed that journalists contributed to this outbreak of protest, and responded by launching a crackdown on independent media. Dozens of journalists, but also activists and human rights defenders, have been detained in Belarus since. Therefore, we had reason to believe that our platform could become a victim of repression too. On May 18, 2021, the authorities blocked, accusing it of publishing 'prohibited information'. Thirteen employees, including myself and several other journalists, were detained. After ten months in prison I was released together with a few colleagues, without dropping the charges. Fortunately I was able to leave the country. In March 2023, Chief Editor Zolotova and Director Chekina were sentenced to twelve years in a penal colony.

I am still on the wanted list in Belarus. A criminal case has been initiated against me and my colleagues under three articles of the Criminal Code. So I can’t go back. I am still continuing my work from abroad. Staying in journalism and continuing to talk about what is happening in Belarus is the only way out for me. 

Being a journalist is a very dangerous but very necessary profession. As journalists we risk ourselves for the future of our countries, for the sake of democratic values. Supporting each other, and insisting on support from politicians and international organisations is very important. 

"Censorship prevents millions of people from receiving accurate information about what is happening in their countries and around the world. This is especially dangerous in a world where there is war, continuous repression, and authoritarian regimes are flourishing." 

—Olga Loiko

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