Media

Belarus has an extremely restricted and hostile media environment. Recent years have brought no genuine improvements to this situation. In a country that has not held a free and fair election since 1994, the authorities keep tight control over the media, severely limiting access to information. Independent journalists are routinely harassed.

Please see the articles below on the problems faced by free media in Belarus:

Statement of BAJ against Administrative Prosecution of Journalists

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Statement of the public associtaion Belarusian Association of Journalists concerning prosecution of journalists for contribution to foreign mass media without accreditation

Belarusian Association of Journalists declares it unlawful to prosecute reporters whose names and materials appear in foreign mass media. Pressure on these journalists bears clear characteristics of threat and blackmailing, and contradicts to national legislative norms as well as to obligations of the Republic of Belarus to ensure freedom of information under international agreements.

On September 25, the Babruysk district court fined Maryna Malchanava, a journalist of the non-state newpaper Bobruyskij Courier, for 32 basic amounts (4 800 000 rubles). She was found guilty of violating p. 2 of art. 22...

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Supreme Court outlaws Belsat TV channel name

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The Supreme Court of Belarus has obliged the Polish Television today to stop using the Belsat trademark when broadcasting to the territory of Belarus.

The trademark is also banned from the use on Belsat’s web-page. The court also ruled to exact 9 998 800 Belarusian roubles of the judicial costs from the defendant, Radio Svaboda reports.

The lawsuit against Telewizja Polska SA, which owns the Belsat trademark, came from the owner of a Belarusian company Belsat Plus Andrei Beliakou in May last year.

According to the entrepreneur, his company, which sells the satellite and cable television equipment, allegedly suffered losses due to the similarity of the name and the one of the TV channel...

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“Extremism” seeking commission to start operating on 27 September

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Information Ministry’s inter-departmental commission tasked with identifying extremism in information products will start operating on 27 September.

This was announced by the deputy Information Minister Uladzimir Matusevich on 3 September at a press-conference in Minsk, BelaPAN reports.

“It is not the matter of some out-of-court decisions, – the official emphasized. – The commission is created as a way to extend the law on countering extremism. Extremist materials will be recognized as such in court, while the commission will provide an expert report as to whether there are or are not signs of extremism in these or those materials”.

The creation of a special expert commission, which will be tasked with assessing whether the issued information products have an extremism component, w...

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Independent Website Got Hacked Spreading False Info about Ukraine

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Editors of the website of the international consortium Eurobelarus informed about an unprecedented hacker attack: for several days anonyms were publishing provocative materials about Ukraine on www.eurobelarus.info and promoted the information on social nets.

According to the editor Andrei Alexandrovich, the attack started last Thursday.

“We noted an unusual rise of visitors viewing not the main page but some earlier article. It turned out that the article was of provocative character and was not published by any of our editors.”

The false article was telling as if Poles in Lviv region started a petition to join the region to Poland. “The most interesting thing is that the article was written quite professionally and was actively promoted on social nets,” says the editor.

Besides, the ano...

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Blogger’s Son Sentenced to Three Years’ Freedom Restriction and a Huge Fine

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On July 18, the Court of Babruisk completed the trial of Aliaksei Zhalnou, son of a local blogger Aleh Zhalnou.

Judge Yuliya Beraziuk sentenced the 25-year old man to three years in an open penal colony. Aliaksei Zhalnou will also have to pay a fine of 50 million rubles in damages (around $5000). The plaintiff, a road policeman Aliaksandr Butouski, asked to recover from Zhalnou 100 million rubles, and the prosecutor demanded four years in a penal colony as a punishment for the blogger’s son. Aliaksei Zhalnou has ten days to appeal the verdict.

An aggravating factor in the case of Aliaksei Zhalnou could be his previous conviction. The young man said that it was because of this fact in his biography that he was targeted by the traffic police in order to avenge his father...

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14th anniversary of Dzmitry Zavadski’s abduction

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The journalist of the ORT TVchannel disappeared without a trace in Minsk on 7 July 2000. His relatives still do not know, where his grave is.

Early in the morning on 7 July 2000 Dzmitry Zavadski, who at the time worked for the Russian ORT TV channel (now – First Channel), went to the national airport Minsk. Since then no one saw Dzmitry Zavadski. His car was found at the airport.

In 2002 Minsk region court found guilty of abducting Zavadski a group of a former Almaz special-ops unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Its members Valer Ihnatovich and Maksim Malik were sentenced for life. Alaksei Huz was sentenced to 25 years in prison, Siarhei Savushkin – to 12 years in high security prison. None of them pled guilty.

In March 2004 the state prosecutor’s office suspended the case of Za...

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Presidium of Supreme Court Remits Belsat-TV Case for Review

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On June 24 the Supreme Court Presidium remitted the lawsuit of Andrey Belyakou against Belsat TV for review due to insufficient investigation of the matter in the previous hearings.

Today, the Supreme Court’s Presidium upheld the appeal of the Supreme Court’s deputy chair Aliaksandr Fedartsou to review the case of Belsat over the use of the trade mark.

The official representative of Belsat TV in Belarus Mikhail Yanchuk said that both parties were able to explain their standing at the hearing. “I tried once again to explain to the judges that the name as well as the logo of out TV channel were registered in Poland in 2006 in compliance with all European legal norms, and cannot anyhow violate Andrei Belyakou’s rights...

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Belsat facing another trial

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Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court wants a reversal of a decision in a lawsuit against the Belsat TV Channel and a new consideration of the case file, press service of the Belarusian Association of Journalists reports.

The lawsuit related to claims by the owner of a company named “BELSATplus”, Andrei Beliakou. In January this year, he asked the Supreme Court of Belarus to recognize his exclusive right to use the trademark “Belsat” and suspend its alleged illegal use by the Polish-based TV channel.

According to Beliakou, his company, which sells equipment for receiving satellite and cable television, allegedly suffers losses due to consonance with the name of the independent TV channel, founded by the Polish television TVP SA in 2006.

On January 27, the Supreme Court rejected the...

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Information Ministry issues a warning to newspaper ‘Svobodnye novosti plus’

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The independent newspaper was accused of “inflicting harm to public interests and forming negative attitude to the Ice Hockey World Championship”.

The warning relates to an article in issue No17 dated May 6. The newspaper wrote that the Russian Federation had not sent any hockey players from the Olympic Games in Sochi to take part in the championship in Minsk.

The author of the publication, by using untrue materials, misleads the public because several hockey players of the Russian Federation who had taken part at the Olympics in Sochi will also take part in the Ice Hockey World Championship in Belarus,” says the warning dated May 12 and signed by the Information Minister Aleh Praliaskouski.

The untrue information disseminated in the mentioned article inflicts damage to public i...

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Belsat journalist fined for work

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Ales’ Zaleuski, author and anchorman of several programs on Belsat TV, was fined by local court for 30 basic amounts under charges “unlawful production and dissemination of mass media products”.

On May 27 an administrative case was heard in the Karelichy district court (Hrodna region). Ales’ Zaleuski was summoned to court on May 19. He petitioned to adjourn the hearing in order to get familiarized with case materials. It should be mentioned that the process went along with a number of procedural violations: the journalist had not seen the administrative report before the invitation to court, he had not received an official summons, but only was invited by phone, and this happened only a day before the first hearing.

He was found guilty of violating administrative article 22...

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