Protests in Minsk, Belarus (photo:Jana Shnipelson)
Belarus: Onslaught on free press continues unabatedly

Press-ECPMF

09 July 2021

No Comments

July 9, 2021

 

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) remains highly concerned by the continuing onslaught on independent media in Belarus, which appears to have taken yet another turn for the worse this week. We reiterate our call on the authorities of Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release all arrested journalists, media workers and political prisoners. We also call again on the European Union and its member states to further increase the pressure on President Lukashenka and his collaborators and to further expand practical and financial support for Belarus’ independent journalists, media workers and outlets. 

 

On 8 July 2021, authorities raided the offices of Naša Niva and the homes of several of its staff, arrested several journalists including editor-in-chief Jahor Marcinovič, and blocked access to the website of the popular independent online publication, which is one of the oldest Belarusian newspapers. As reported by the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), the information ministry said that the website had been blocked at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office in connection with the distribution of content banned under the Media Law. Marcinovič was arrested as he was walking his dog and brought to his apartment, which was searched. He was placed in custody for 72 hours as a suspect in criminal proceedings for alleged “organising or taking an active part in group actions grossly disturbing public order” (Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code). According to the Associated Press, Marcinovič needed medical attention during his interrogation. The BAJ reports that also the homes of deputy editor-in-chief Andrej Dyńko, editor Andrej Skurko and chief accountant Voĺha Rakovič were searched and they were all brought in for questioning. Skurko remains in detention.

 

Also yesterday, officers of state security service KGB also searched two regional media outlets, the Brestskaya Gazeta in Brest and Intex-Press in the city of Baranavichi. In Orsha, authorities questioned Ihar Kazmiarchak, human rights activist and editor of orsha.eu newsportal, about damage to urban spaces with political slogans and detained him for 72 hours. In the same town, the home of photographer Dzyanis Dubkou was searched. In Bobruisk, the KGB detained Alesya Latsinskaya, a journalist who worked for the independent bobr.by newsportal. And in Vitebsk, freelance journalist Vital Skryl was interrogated and detained for 72 hours as a suspect under Article 369 of the Criminal Code (insulting a government official). The authorities also raided the house of another local journalist, Zmitser Kazakevič, head of BAJ-Vitebsk. In the same region, freelance journalist Zmitser Lupač was detained by the KGB at the Plisa resort, where he was on vacation. His wife told the BAJ that police had also come to his home.


Yesterday’s repression brings the total number of media workers currently in prison in Belarus to 32. Reportedly, additional searches are being carried out today at the time of writing, as the Belarusian authorities move to further silence critical journalists and shutter independent outlets in the wake of mass protests that have followed last year’s rigged presidential elections.

Read news by categories:

Related news

Statement

France: Media freedom coalition condemns Vivendi’s disinformation campaign against Reporters Without Borders

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners strongly condemn the cyber disinformation campaign against the press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

READ MORE
Press release

Georgia: A crisis point for press freedom

Today, ECPMF publishes a report detailing the findings of its fact-finding mission to Tbilisi, Georgia, which paint a picture of independent media in the midst of an existential crisis.

READ MORE
Statement

Turkey: Freedom of the press and expression groups condemn broadcast regulator’s silencing of Açık Radyo

The undersigned freedom of the press and expression organizations condemn the decision by Turkey’s broadcast regulator to revoke the license of independent radio station Açık Radyo.

READ MORE
Feature

Blind Spots: How self-censorship impacts local journalism in Germany

Attacks on journalists in Germany have been on the rise for years. According to the latest study published ECPMF, there were 69 verified cases of physical attacks on media professionals in 2023, 13 more than in 2022.

READ MORE
Statement

The EU must do more to prioritise protecting media freedom and human rights in Turkey

The undersigned media freedom, human rights and journalists’ groups call on the new European Commission and the new European Parliament to strengthen their commitment to protecting journalists’ rights and freedom of expression in their relations with Turkey.

READ MORE
Statement

Kosovo: Dangerous attack by MP Dimal Basha on ECPMF’S Senior legal advisor Flutura Kusari

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners condemn Kosovo MP Dimal Basha's gender-based attack on ECPMF's Senior legal advisor Flutura Kusari, amid calls for media law reform.

READ MORE
Tags :