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:

Journalists and activists detained on the Day of commemorating victims of stalinist repressions

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Several journalists were temporarily detained in separate incidents today, including correspondents from the Mourning Marathon, commemoration of people who died from Stalin repressions.

The Mourning Marathon started from Kalvaryjski Cemetary: people lay flowers and lit candles, after which policemen arrived and asked the people to proceed to the police department. Journalists were detained together with participants of the action, in all more than 20 people, reported Belarusian association of journalists.

Among the detainees there were journalists Natallia Valakida, Siarhei Krauchuk, Natallia Benitsevich, Dzianis Nosau and Aliaksandr Korsakau. They were taken to the Frunzenski district police department, where they were searched, questioned and set free in an hour and a half.

The Mournin...

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Journalists detained at Minsk railway station

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Independent journalists were detained at Minsk’s central railway station. Journalists Zakhar Shcharbakou, Andrei Korsak and Barys Haretski as well as Yahor Mayorchyk, Ales Piletski and Siarhei Hudzilin were expected to meet there the released political prisoner Paval Seviarynets.

Pavel Seviarynets was released at night. He was ordered to leave the special detention facility at 3 a.m. and take a train to Minsk to disrupt the plans of journalists and friends who wanted to meet him.

The police said the detainees would be set free if Paval Seviarynets didn’t organise a rally at the railway station. All journalists were set free 50 minutes after Paval Seviarynets left the railway station.

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Police Rejects Claim for Criminal Prosecution of Soviet Belorussia Journalist for Disclosure of Sensitive Information

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The Soviet district police department of Minsk dismissed the claim filed by an NGO against the government-run newspaper Sovietskaya Belorussia regarding their article where the newspaper published letters being evidence in an espionage case.

On August 23, the Center for Legal Transformation (Lawtrend) filed a complaint to the General prosecutor’s office regarding a publication of closed criminal case materials in mass media. The complaint addressed the article in Sovietskaya Belorussia dated August 21, authored by Ihar Dolin. The article (and continuation on the next day) told about Andrei Haydukou who had been convicted of attempt of espionage...

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Freedom House considers Belaus to be a country with non-free Internet

The human rights organization “Freedom House” referred Belarus to the group of countries with non-free Internet, reported NashaNiva newspaper.

The Freedom House report on Internet freedom in 2013 includes 60 countries. 29 of whom blocked or filtered the internet for information of political and social issues.

According to the report, the Belarusian authorities use SORM system to monitor and control the Internet, which is also used in Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. The index of Internet freedom in Belarus is 67 points. Uzbekistan is the only country of the former USSR that is lower than Belarus in this respect, holding 78 points. Kazakhstan received 59 points , Russia – 54, Azerbaijan – 52, Kyrgyzstan – 35, Ukraine – 28 and Georgia – 26.

The freest one...

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Publisher Deprived of License for Publishing Belarus Press Photo 2011

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The private entrepreneur Lohvinau was informed on September 23 that his license for publishing activities had been withdrawn.

The document was signed by Liliya Ananich, deputy of the Minister of Information. The license was withdrawn because of “rough violations of the legislation on licensing”. The matter deals with publishing of the Belarus press Photo 2011 photo album which had been recognized extremist by the Ashmiany court on April 18, 2013.

“We think that the license had been suspended unlawfully, with many violations, so we have already sent a letter to the Minister of Information Aleh Praliaskouski,” said a representative of the publishing company.

According to Andrei Bastunets, the deputy chair and lawyer of BAJ, the law does not entitle the Minister of Information to taki...

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Journalist Andrzej Poczobut’s suspended sentence is terminated

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On September 23 the Leninski district court of Hrodna reviewed the criminal case of the journalist Andrei Poczobut and threw out the sentence.

On July 5, 2011 Andrei Poczobut was found guilty of violating article 367, part 1 of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to three years in jail with two years’ deferment. The period of deferment ended on September 20, reports press service of the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

“Surely I am pleased now that I can travel freely abroad and don’t need to register regularly at the police. Meantime, I still consider the sentence absolutely unlawful,” the journalist told in an interview to the press-service of BAJ. “Now I need to make a visa and I am going to visit the editorial office of Gazeta Wyborcza in Warsaw.”

According to t...

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Belarusian journalist Iryna Khalip finally freed

Press release of Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders is pleased to learn that the Belarusian authorities have finally lifted the restrictions on journalist Irina Khalip’s movements that had been in place for more than two and a half years.

A court in the Minsk district of Partyzanski ruled on 19 July that Khalip, a correspondent of the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, had satisfied the conditions of the two-year probation period imposed on when she was given a two-year suspended jail sentence on 16 May 2011.

“The regime has made a small concession to freedom of information,” Reporters Without Borders said. “But the court violated judicial procedures by refusing to tell journalists when the hearing would be held in order to prevent them attending...

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Criminal case of Iryna Khalip passed to court

The criminal-executive inspection of the Partyzanski District Police Department passed to court the materials of the criminal case against Iryna Khalip. The deferrment of the sentence Mrs. Khalip ends on 21 July, that’s why the trial cannot start later than this date.

According to Mrs. Khalip, the court has to decide whether she is to be released, sent to a penitentiary or prolong the deferment of the sentence for some time.

Bear in mind that Iryna Khalip, the wife of former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikau, who was granted political asylum in the UK in May 2011, was found guilty of involvement in the riots after the election of 19 December 2010 and sentenced to two years imprisonment with suspended sentence for two years...

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Independant journalist Alena Stsiapanava to stand trial for work without accreditation

Alena Stsiapanava, member of Belarusian association of journaliste (BAJ) from Vitebsk, is accused of work for foreign mass media without accreditation.

On July 9 the journalist came to the Kastrychnitski district police department of Vitebsk, together with her lawyer, where she was shown an administrative protocol against her, complied by the senior inspector of protecting law and order and crime prevention Siarhei Viaraksa.

The police accuse the journalist of contributing to the foreign mass media Radio Svaboda without accreditation, a violation according to article 22.9 of the Administrative Code.

The case materials provide such evidence as, for instance: policemen saw how I attended trials over activists and wrote down something in my notepad,” said Alena Stsiapanava. “Or someone...

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Dzmitry Zavadsky : Missing for 13 years

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Dzmitry Zavadski worked in the press-pool of Alexandre Lukashenka from 1994 up to 1997. In 1997 Dzmitry went to work with the Public Russian TV ORT.

In the spring of 1997 he was arrested together with another journalist of Russian TV channel ORT Pavel Sheremet for the report about transparency of Belarusian-Lithuanian border, and got a year and a half of suspended sentence.

From October of 1999 until May of 2000 he was working in Chechnya, where together with Pavel Sheremet was shooting a film Chechnya’s Diary.

Upon the disappearance, a criminal murder case was started, and later reclassified into abduction.

Starting from October 24, 2001 four people (V. Ihnatovich, M. Malik, A. Huz and S. Savushkin) were on a closed trial for the abduction of Dzmitry Zavadsky...

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