Belarus remains at bottom of Eastern Partnership media freedom list

Belarus has again been ranked last among the six Eastern Partnership participating countries in a media freedom index compiled by Ukraine`s Internews with the support of the European Union, Andrey Bastunets, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), told reporters in Minsk on Monday.

Moldova is at the top of the list and is followed by Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Belarus, Mr. Bastunets said.

Internews updates the index every quarter by interviewing 10 media experts in each of the six countries. The experts identify three positive and three negative developments in the country under review, among other things.

The report focuses on media freedom regulations, their enforcement, and the state of television, radio and online media outlets.

The Belarusian experts managed to identify only two positive developments in Belarus in the period between July and September, namely, the removal of all restrictions on the freedom of journalist Andrzej Poczobut in connection with the expiration of his suspended three-year prison sentence and the improvement of the technical potential of the Belarusian segment of the , Mr. Bastunets said.

The negative developments include the suspension of the license of Minsk-based private Lohvinaw Publishing House, the issuance of a formal warning to the non-state newspaper Narodnaya Volya, and the seizure of books to be examined for signs of “extremism,” he said.

The experts called on the Belarusian government to carry out media reform aimed at privatization and de-monopolization and improve the legal situation of freelance journalists, Mr. Bastunets said.

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