Liudmila Chekina was detained on 18 May 2021 as part of a criminal case against TUT.BY. On that day, the company's office and the homes of some of its employees were searched. 14 people were also detained: the editor-in-chief of TUT.BY, Maryna Zolatava, journalists, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals. The investigation lasted almost 20 months, during which Liudmila Chekina and Maryna Zolatava remained at the SIZO-1 [pre-trial detention center].
On 20 October 2022, the Belarusian KGB (State Security Committee) added Liudmila Chekina and Maryna Zolatava to the list of persons involved in terrorist activities. On 9 January 2023, behind closed doors, the Minsk City Court began considering the "TUT.BY case". On the dock - Chekina and Zolatava.
Liudmila Chekina is being prosecuted based on the following articles of the Belarus Criminal Code: Part 2 Art. 243 (evasion of the payment of taxes, and fees on a particularly large scale); Part 4 Art. 16, Part 3 of Art. 130 (organisation of intentional actions aimed at inciting racial, national, religious, or other social hatred committed by a group of persons or having serious consequences); Part 4 Art. 16, Part 3 of Art. 361 (incitement to action aimed at harming national security through the media or the Internet).
On 17 March 2023, Judge Valiantsina Ziankevich found Liudmila Chekina guilty on all three counts and sentenced the political prisoner to 12 years in a penal colony. In addition, Liudmila was fined 37,000 Belarusian rubles (around 14,600 USD) and deprived of the right to engage in activities related to the performance of organisational, administrative, and management duties for five years.
Liudmila's story is told by her colleagues, to whom she is Mila [diminutive for Liudmila].