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  • 11th BAJ Congress elects Andrei Bastunets as Chair, and adds a new face to deputy chairs PHOTOS

    The Congress was attended by about 60 delegates, and guests.

    The Congress discussed the BAJ activities over the past three years and elected BAJ governing bodies: Chairperson, 4 deputy chairs, the Board and the Council.

     11th BAJ Congress / Minsk, BIG PHOTO REPORT

    At the begin­ning of the Con­gress the del­e­gates paid trib­ute to the mem­o­ry of BAJ mem­bers who have died since the pre­vi­ous con­gress:

    Valer Shchukin
     Ales Lipai
     Yury Ziss­er
     Yury Varonezht­sau
     Uladz­imir Mialesh­ka
     Vik­tar Val­adaschuk
     Lubou Ziamtso­va
     Vasil Matske­vich
     Uladz­imir Tou­st­sik
     Alexan­der Vasileus­ki

    Then numer­ous mes­sages of sol­i­dar­i­ty from inter­na­tion­al human rights and jour­nal­ist orga­ni­za­tions were read:  Inter­na­tion­al Fed­er­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists, PEN Inter­na­tion­al  IFEX, Index of cen­sor­ship, Reporters With­out Bor­ders ARTICLE 19 and oth­ers.

    The del­e­gates men­tioned the names of jour­nal­ists who are cur­rent­ly in jail:

    Kat­siary­na Andreye­va
     Daria Chultso­va
     Kat­siary­na Bary­se­vich
     Yulia Slut­skaya
     Alla Sharko
     Siarhei Alsheus­ki
     Peter Slut­sky
     Kse­nia Lut­ski­na
     Andrei Ali­ak­san­drau
     Dzia­n­is Ivashyn
     Andrzej Pac­zobut
     Siarhei Hardziye­vich (under house arrest)

    Human rights activist, BAJ mem­ber Leanid Sudalen­ka, Iry­na Zlobi­na (arrest­ed togeth­er with Andrei Ali­ak­san­drau), and BAJ mem­bers, colum­nist  Alexan­der Fiadu­ta and politi­cian Pavel Seviarynets are also behind bars.

    BAJ chair­man report­ed to the Con­gress on BAJ activ­i­ties and achieve­ments over the past three years.

    Andrei Bas­tunets stressed that the orga­ni­za­tion had been work­ing towards its statu­to­ry goals and objec­tives, despite all the cir­cum­stances faced by the com­mu­ni­ty in gen­er­al and BAJ in par­tic­u­lar.

    «In 2019, our edu­ca­tion­al events were at the core of our activ­i­ties, but, obvi­ous­ly, in 2020 we focuced on human rights activ­i­ties, advo­ca­cy, and sup­port of the col­leagues who were per­se­cut­ed,» — said Bas­tunets.

    Some BAJ mem­bers took part in the Con­gress via the Zoom plat­form.


    Andrei Bas­tunets was elect­ed chair­per­son of the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists

    His can­di­da­cy was sup­port­ed unan­i­mous­ly by the Con­gress del­e­gates.

     Aleh Aheeu, Alexan­der Staryke­vich,  Barys Haret­s­ki, and Iry­na Slau­nika­va were elect­ed deputy chairs.


    The Board was elect­ed:

    Andrei Bas­tunets,
     Aleh Aheeu,
     Barys Haret­s­ki,
     Alexan­der Staryke­vich,
     Iry­na Slau­nika­va,
     Iry­na Vidana­va,
    Ali­na Suravets,
     Mary­na Zahorskaya,
     Yury Kar­manau,
     Zhan­na Litv­ina,
     Anton Surapin,
     Zoya Khrut­skaya,
     Barys Vyr­vich,
     Vol­ha Khvoin,
     Uladz­imir Yanuke­vich,
     Yulia Katarzhyn­skaya,
     Andrei Kliku­nou.

    The new Coun­cil was elect­ed, too:

    Andrei Bas­tunets,
    Aleh Aheeu,
    Barys Haret­s­ki,
    Alexan­der Staryke­vich,
    Iry­na Slau­nika­va,
    Iry­na Vidana­va,
    Mary­na Zahorskaya,
    Yury Kar­manau,
    Ali­na Suravets,
    Zhan­na Litv­ina,

    Anton Surapin,
    Zoya Khrut­skaya,
    Barys Vyr­vich,
    Vol­ha Khvoin,
    Uladz­imir Yanuke­vich,
    Yulia Katarzhyn­skaya,
    Andrei Kliku­nou,
    Vol­ha Bara­nouskaya,
    Miko­la Bianko,
    Svi­at­lana Har­da,
    Uladz­imir Dzi­u­ba,
    Henadz Kesner,
    Yahor Martsi­novich,
    Ale­na Naskovich,
    Tat­siana Smotk­i­na,
    Zmitser Kaza­ke­vich,
    Aksana Brovach,
    Iry­na Leushy­na,
    Aksana Kolb,
    Alexan­der Ziank­ou


    New Ethics Com­mis­sion:

    Siarhei Vahanau,
     Dzmit­ry Pad­biarezs­ki,
     Ana­tol Hatouchyts,
     Valer Kar­bale­vich,
     Tat­siana Mel­nichuk,
     Dzmit­ry Pankavets,
     Tat­siana Ravi­a­ka.


    The Congress delegates note that the conditions for media and the general situation with the freedom of expression in Belarus have significantly deteriorated in recent years:

    • crim­i­nal and admin­is­tra­tive pros­e­cu­tion of jour­nal­ists, blog­gers, and oth­er media employ­ees vio­lates the stan­dards of free­dom of expres­sion, the inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions of Belarus and the con­sti­tu­tion­al pro­vi­sions on the right of every­one to receive, store and dis­sem­i­nate infor­ma­tion;

    • the planned amend­ments to the law on the media will fur­ther lim­it the free­dom of expres­sion; no gen­uine dis­cus­sion of these amend­ments where rep­re­sen­ta­tives of media, civic soci­ety and busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty could par­tic­i­pate only empha­sizes their repres­sive nature;

    • State monop­oly on most of the elec­tron­ic and print media, as well as the print­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tem makes the con­sti­tu­tion­al guar­an­tees of equal­i­ty of rights of enter­pris­es of dif­fer­ent own­er­ship and free­dom of expres­sion obso­lete;

    • free­lance jour­nal­ists in Belarus still remain out­side the law.

    The Con­gress points out the cat­a­stroph­ic decline in the qual­i­ty of the gov­ern­ment-fund­ed media, which do not adhere to even min­i­mal stan­dards of jour­nal­is­tic ethics, open­ly use hate speech and insult the «oppo­nents» of the rul­ing pow­er. On the oth­er hand, the Con­gress draws atten­tion to the appar­ent rise in the vol­ume of Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da in state media that endan­gers the infor­ma­tion secu­ri­ty of Belarus.

    The Con­gress demands:

    • to imme­di­ate­ly release all impris­oned jour­nal­ists and media experts;

    • to involve Belaru­sian soci­ety, jour­nal­is­tic and busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties, as well as inter­na­tion­al experts in the dis­cus­sion of the changes in media leg­is­la­tion;

    • to rec­og­nize leg­isla­tive­ly the right of every­one to col­lect and dis­sem­i­nate infor­ma­tion in local and for­eign mass media;

    • to ensure unhin­dered access of jour­nal­ists to infor­ma­tion;

    • to cre­ate equal eco­nom­ic con­di­tions for the media; to aban­don the state monop­oly in the fields of print­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion of media prod­ucts.

    The Con­gress of the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists calls on the Belaru­sian author­i­ties and soci­ety to pay excep­tion­al atten­tion to the sit­u­a­tion with the free­dom of speech, which is not only a part of fun­da­men­tal human rights and free­doms, but is also a cri­te­ri­on for main­tain­ing oth­er rights and free­doms.

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