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  • About the Belarusian Association of Journalists

    The Belarusian Association of Journalists is the largest democratic non-governmental association of Belarusian media representatives. It is a proud member of the International and European Federation of Journalists. We educate journalists, protect their rights, monitor the media sphere, conduct campaigns, and coordinate the media community.

    BAJ is a unique source of information about the media situation in Belarus.

    About us

    BAJ activities

    The Belarusian Association of Journalists has been operating since the autumn of 1995.

    Since 1997 BAJ has been an associate member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

    Since 2013, BAJ has been a full member of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).

    Since 1998, BAJ has been a constant monitor of violations of freedom of expression and media rights. The organization has a network of correspondents throughout Belarus, who promptly collect and submit information on media situation in their regions.

    During the 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2019, and 2020 election campaigns, BAJ monitored the Belarusian media’s coverage of the elections. Journalists in Minsk and the regions conducted quantitative and qualitative analyses of publications and shows in both state and non-state media. They recorded the time allotted to various subjects of the electoral process and noted how they were covered. Biweekly analytical reports were presented based on the processed monitoring data.

    According to the 2016 survey of Belarusian citizens commissioned by the Center for European Studies and conducted by the SATIO group of companies, the Belarusian Association of Journalists was identified as the most well-known domestic NGO. 5.7% of respondents reported awareness of BAJ’s activities.

    From 2000 to 2021, BAJ published the professional journal Abazhur (Lampshade). The publication was distributed to non-state media, as well as 118 state newspaper offices and six regional television and radio associations. The journal published materials on the function and role of the media in society, professional duties and responsibilities, journalistic ethics, challenges in information gathering and distribution, etc.

    BAJ's key tasks
    Protecting the rights and legitimate interests of BAJ members in government agencies and international organizations
    Assisting BAJ members in creating logistical, organizational, and other necessary conditions for their activities and professional development
    Designing a civilized media development program aimed at creating favorable conditions for its functioning in Belarus
    Establishing relations with foreign journalistic organizations
    Persecution

    On 16 February 2021, security forces searched the homes of BAJ leaders and the association’s office. On 14 July 2021, security forces broke down the door to the BAJ office and sealed it after another search.

    On 27 August 2021, the Supreme Court granted the Ministry of Justice’s claim for the liquidation of the Belarusian Association of Journalists. The case was considered by Judge Inesa Lazavikova.

    The International and European Federations of Journalists, as well as the European Union, condemned the decision to liquidate the BAJ. Currently, the Belarusian Association of Journalists is appealing the decision of the Belarusian court in international instances.

    On 28 February 2023, the Belarusian KGB recognized BAJ as an extremist formation. This decision was strongly condemned by the OSCE, Reporters Without Borders, the European Federation of Journalists, and many other international organizations.

    34 media workers are currently in prison
    See the entire list of repressions

    Management

    Andrei Bastunets

    Andrei Bastunets

    chairman of the BAJ
    Andrei Bastunets has been the chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists since 2015. At the congress in April 2021, he was re-elected to the post.
    Barys Haretski

    Barys Haretski

    BAJ deputy chair
    Aleh Aheyeu

    Aleh Aheyeu

    BAJ deputy chair

    Awards

    • 2003 – Golden Pen of Freedom Prize by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN)
    • 2004 – The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament
    • 2011 – Atlantic Council Freedom Award by the Atlantic Council of the United States of America. The Viasna Human Rights Center and the Belarusian Free Theater were also awarded this prize
    • 2020 – The First Media Freedom Award. During the Global Conference for Media Freedom 2020, it was announced that BAJ received the prestigious award from the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom
    • 2021 – National Award for the Protection of Freedom of Speech (Ukraine)
    • 2022 – UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize
    • 2022 – RSF Press Freedom Award

    Statutes, codes, etc

    BAJ Declaration of Principles on the Journalist Ethics

    RESPECTING our profession and understanding its great social importance;

    BEING GUIDED by the intention to strengthen public confidence in mass media as one of the democracy maintaining institutions;

    ACKNOWLEDGING the IFJ Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists as a standard of professional behavior while obtaining, storing, disseminating and commenting on information;

    UNDERSTANDING that the profession imposes great responsibility on journalists;

    members of the Belarusian Association of Journalists declare that they will observe the following principles of the professional ethics:

    •    RESPECT the public’s right to know the truth, remembering at the same time that none has a monopoly over the truth.
    •    PROTECT the right to obtain and disseminate information and freedom of expression.
    •    STRIVE FOR maximum accuracy of information, in-depth and true argumentation while expressing opinions.
    •    ADMIT publicly and consciously one’s own mistake.
    •    CONSIDER unacceptable plagiarism, intentional misrepresentation and misinterpretation, ungrounded accusations, acceptance of a bribe for dissemination or refusal to disseminate some information.
    •    RESPECT other peoples’ points of view and foster public discussion in mass media.
    •    PREVENT racial, national, religious, sex, gender, political and other kinds of discrimination.
    •    PROTECT rights and interests of third parties while seeking, storing and disseminating information.
    •    PROTECT confidentiality of sources of information.
    •    NOT TO PLEASE authorities, but remember that one of the functions of the mass media is to control authorities’ actions.
    •    EXPRESS solidarity with the colleagues who are persecuted for journalist activities.
    •    STICK TO the jurisdiction of the journalistic community and try to solve conflicts with colleagues avoiding authorities’ intervention.

    Joining BAJ

    How to become BAJ member?

    Any full-aged Belarusian citizen and any foreign citizen who work in journalism or foster its development in Belarus, promote the aims and tasks of BAJ, recognize and fulfil the Statute and the Declaration of the professional ethics can join BAJ.

    The admission process is conducted by the respective branch of BAJ in each administrative unit. If there is no such representing branch in the administrative unit, the admission is conducted by the Board of BAJ.

    For admission you need to submit the following documents to the head of the respective branch or to the central office of BAJ (220030, Minsk, Kamsamolskaya str., 7, room.32 Office phone +375 17 2036366, mobile +375 29 1267098):

    • Filled-in application form (PDF);
    • written recommendations from two BAJ members (the form is optional, only date, signature and name/surname of the people giving the recommendations are needed);
    • 2 photos 3×4 and filled-in form when you want to get a press pass from BAJ or IFJ.
    Benefits of BAJ membership

    By joining the organization, you become member of an officially registered Belarusian journalist organization, which raises your status while performing your professional duties in different conditions and situations. You can get the press pass with the seal stamp confirming your membership.

    By joining BAJ, you automatically become member of the International Federation of Journalists (BAJ has been its associate member since 1997). You have a chance to get the international press pass which is officially recognized in many countries. A year after you’ve been a member of BAJ, you can apply for a certificate of the IFJ.

    You become entitled to free legal aid in case some problems arise connected with your work – including representation in court.

    You get the right to take part in educational programs (trainings, seminars etc.) organized by BAJ and its members in both Belarus and abroad.

    You can rely on BAJ when you have some professional problems or some emergencies occur that need public support.

    Every day send to your mailbox: actual offers (grants, vacancies, competitions, scholarships), announcements of events (lectures, performances, presentations, press conferences) and good content.

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