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:

Journalists of a number of media not accredited to the Ice Hockey World Championship


Journalists of a number of media have not been accredited to the Ice Hockey World Championship which takes place in Minsk. According to journalists who described the situation to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, they had applied for accreditation in due time, but eventually got apologies and denials.

BAJ spokesperson Barys Haretski: “Radio Liberty, BBC, European Radio, correspondent office of NTV and a number of other media working in Belarus have not received accreditation to the ice hockey championship. In most cases, the refusal was motivated by the fact that the International Ice Hockey Federation which was in charge of accreditation gave privilege to the specialized sports media.”

At the same time, according to the sport journalists, they saw even students of the Belaru...

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Journalist in Vitsebsk facing charges over illegal work for foreign media


The fact that journalist Alena Stsiapanava is accused of working without accreditation for foreign media was reported during her visit to the Kastrychnitski district police department of Vitsebsk.

The summons was signed by senior inspector of law enforcement and prevention Siarhei Viaraksa.

“I was summoned to the police station to tell about the article entitled “Vitsebsk schoolchildren refuse to learn anthem”, which appeared on Radio Liberty’s website on January 28. Siarhei Viaraksa asked me if I knew the people mentioned in the text, and if I had anything to do with this publication on the Internet. Also, the police officer asked what I knew about “the situation with the anthem” of Vitsebsk, which was criticized by local people...

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Analytic report “Belarus: Time for Media Reform”


On February 6, an analytic report on media situation in Belarus was presented at the office of the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

On February 8 it turns five years since the Law on Mass Media has come into legal force. The law enforcement practice shows all its drawbacks that impact negatively free speech and media sphere in Belarus.

The analytical report, presented by Andrei Aliaksandrau (Index on Censorship) and Andrei Bastunets (BAJ), provides an overview of media landscape in Belarus, estimates the law enforcement practice regarding journalists, and provides recommendations on how to improve the situation so that to ensure rights and freedoms of the media and free expression...

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Blogger detained for 11 hours in Babruysk


The blogger Aleh Zhalnou, prosecuted by local authorities in Babruysk, was detained for almost twelve hours “under suspicion of preparing an explosion”.

On February 4, in the morning, the blogger came to a personal meeting to the head of a department of the local Investigative Committee. He left his personal belongings in the cloakroom, including a key for the car. The duty officer imagined that the key could be a remote control for a bomb, and arrested the blogger. He was searched and then placed into a camera, then questioned. A lawyer was invited.

After the questioning and watching surveillance camera records, he was set free “taking into consideration that the grounds for further detention were dismissed”...

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Belsat TV Wins Lawsuit on the Use of Trademark


The Judges’ Panel of the Supreme Court of Belarus dismissed the suit of the private company Belsat + against the satellite television Belsat.

The Court decided that plaintiff Andrei Beliakou, head of the private company Belsat +, failed to prove his exclusive rights for the trademark “Belsat” in the territory of Belarus. The decision has come into legal force and cannot be appealed in a cassational court, only in exercise of supervisory powers.

We remind that the legal action was started by Andrei Beliakou in November, 2013: the director of the Belsat+ company, specializing in selling satellite and cable TV equipment, claimed that the satellite channel Belsat TV used the trade mark “Belsat” unlawfully...

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Belsat-TV Lawsuit: Plaintiff Changes Claim


Today, the company Belsat + no longer wants that Belsat TV stop being transmitted in Belarus; now, the only thing the director wants is that Belsat TV stop using the trade mark “Belsat”.

At today’s hearing the director of Belsat +, a trading company specializing in satellite equipment, said that he did not want that the satellite Astra stop the transmission of Belsat TV signal; instead, he only wanted that the TV stop using the trade mark the same as that of his company.

The next hearing is tomorrow, January 21, at 10 am.

“The TV channel is registered in Poland, the same as the domain of the website,” say representatives of the TV channel...

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Local paper ordered to vacate office for fire code violation


Officials in the western city of Slonim ordered the staff of the independent weekly Gazeta Slonimskaya to vacate their offices by 1 January on the grounds that the building violates the fire code.

Editor Viktar Vladashchuk regards the eviction as just the latest of many government manoeuvres aimed at silencing outspoken media. Gazeta Slonimskaya has operated out of a two-room office rented from Partner Slonim, a private company, since 2008. Even if Vladashchuk sounds confident about the newspaper’s future, he says it must quickly find new premises to avoid any break in publication.

“I know the local administration repeatedly tried to convince the owner to evict us, but he always refused,” Vladashchuk commented to Reporters Without Borders...

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Independent Publisher Loses Suit Against Belarusian Information Ministry


The Supreme Economic Court of Belarus has rejected a lawsuit filed by a Minsk-based independent publisher against the Information Ministry.

RFE/RL’s Belarus Service reports, that Ihar Lohvinau, the owner of the private LohvinaU publishing house, had demanded that the ministry’s decision to withdraw his license be revoked.

Lohvinau lost his license after a court in Minsk in April declared as “extremist” a book that showcased some of the country’s best photojournalism.

The book — printed by Lohvinau’s company two years ago — consisted of photographs that won prizes in the 2011 Belarus Press Photo competition, including images of a police crackdown on people protesting against authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Some of the images were taken by photographers working for internation...

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Lawsuit filed against Belsat TV


Andrey Belyakou claims that television Belsat TV has been illegally using its trade mark. The trial was to begin on November 11. On the morning of this day the Supreme Court upheld the plea of the Belsat TV official representative Mikhail Yanchuk to defer the hearing for a later date.

According to the claimant, the trademark owner sells satellite and cable TV equipment. The company was established by Siarhei Lysyankou in 2003 under the style of Hitech-Market.

In May, 2006 it became known that our channel, Belsat TV, was being established. A month later Mr Lysyankou transferred the rights for the trade mark to Mr Belyakou. The latter renamed the firm into Unitary Enterprise BELSATplus. In 2011 a contraction form of word ‘television’ – TV – appeared in the company’s specifica...

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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 Belarus...

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