Belarus Film Festival Director Released From Prison After Outcry From Human Rights Leaders

Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska, who fronts the Watch Docs Film Festival, was arrested for her role in organizing a photo exhibition celebrating health workers, and fined for protesting against police.

AceShowbiz - Filmmaker Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska has been released from a Belarusian prison thanks to protests from human rights leaders around the world.

The director, who also fronts the Watch Docs Film Festival, was arrested on April 5 for her role in organizing a photo exhibition celebrating health workers. She was fined for protesting against police and placed in a detention centre in Minsk.

Human Rights Film Network officials insisted she was a political prisoner and urged activists around the globe to pressure politicians for her release, which came on Thursday, April 15, as she was facing a court hearing and several years behind bars.

Human Rights Film Network board member, Florencia Santucho, Director of the Buenos Aires International Human Rights Film Festival stated, "We urge the Belarusian authorities to immediate and unconditionally release our colleague Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska and other human rights defenders, and to end acts of judicial harassment against them."

An open letter from Human Rights Film Network addressed to Belarusian authorities partly read, "We urge the government of Belarus to respect Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska's right to freedom of expression and personal freedom."

"Hatsura-Yavorska has made essential contributions to Belarusian culture and for the promotion of fundamental values that are universally shared by our global film community, of which WATCH DOCS Belarus is a member," it continued.

Officials at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals also released statements calling for Hatsura-Yavorska's freedom. Sources tell Deadline that all criminal charges against her have also been dropped.

Meanwhile, Volodymyr Yavorski, Hatsura-Yavorska's activist husband, has been forced to flee Belarus and is now living abroad with the couple's children. He was reportedly told by authorities to leave the country or face prison himself. It is believed he won't be able to return to the country for a period of 10 years.

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