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    101 the num­ber of detained jour­nal­ists in 2017

    69 the num­ber of fines to free­lance jour­nal­ists for coop­er­a­tion with for­eign media with­out press accred­i­ta­tions in 2017

    24 235 EUR the total sum if fines, imposed on jour­nal­ists for coop­er­a­tion with for­eign mass media 2017

    47 mil­lion EUR the num­ber of fines to free­lance jour­nal­ists for coop­er­a­tion with for­eign media with­out press accred­i­ta­tions in 2017 the total sum of fines, imposed on jour­nal­ists for coop­er­a­tion with for­eign mass media in 2017 the total sum of grants to the state-owned media from the state bud­get in 2017

    Detentions of Journalists


    Fines to Journalists for Violating Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code


    State Budget Support to Mass Media in Belarus


    17 the num­ber of offi­cial warn­ings, issued by the Min­istry of Infor­ma­tion of Belarus to media out­lets (7) and Web-resources (7) in 2017. One Web-site received 2 warn­ings dur­ing the year course. Anoth­er Web-site received three warn­ings with­in the year course

    106 the num­ber of deci­sions, issued by the Min­istry of Infor­ma­tion of Belarus on block­ing access to Web-resources in 2017

    194 the total num­ber of deci­sions, issued by the Min­istry of Infor­ma­tion of Belarus on block­ing access to Web-resources since 2015, when the Min­istry was autho­rized to issue such ordi­nances

    320 the num­ber of infor­ma­tion mate­ri­als with the signs of extrem­ism, found by the Nation­al Com­mit­tee on Eval­u­a­tion of Infor­ma­tion Mate­ri­als on the Presence/Absence of Man­i­fes­ta­tions of Extrem­ism in 2017



    The declared lib­er­al­iza­tion of eco­nom­ic and cul­tur­al life in Belarus didn’t have any effect on the sphere of expres­sion of opin­ion and oth­er fields, con­nect­ed with imple­men­ta­tion of civ­il and polit­i­cal rights in the coun­try in 2017. More­over, the sit­u­a­tion appeared to be one of the tough­est for Belaru­sian inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism in recent years. It had been worse only in the post-elec­tion year of 2011.

    Thus, the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists reg­is­tered 13 cas­es of short-term deten­tion of jour­nal­ists on duty in 2016
    com­pared to 101 cas­es of deten­tion in 2017. Also, the jour­nal­ists were arrest­ed for the peri­od of 10 – 15 days in 10 cas­es last year. Most cas­es of deten­tion were observed dur­ing mass protest actions in Belarus, which took place in the spring of 2017.

    The num­ber of reg­is­tered cas­es of deten­tion reduced as soon as the ‘Hot spring — 2017’ was over.

    Pros­e­cu­tion of jour­nal­ists for coop­er­a­tion with for­eign mass media with­out press cre­den­tials resumed after almost a one-year break in March 2017. It con­tin­ued after the end of protest actions in the coun­try. Con­se­quent­ly, the num­ber of fines, imposed on free­lance jour­nal­ists, dras­ti­cal­ly increased in 2017 — 69 cas­es vs. 10 cas­es in 2016. It was more than dur­ing three pre­vi­ous years in the aggre­gate. The total num­ber of fines exceed­ed EUR 25,000 in 2017.

    The jour­nal­ists, who con­tribute mate­ri­als to for­eign media, are fined on the base of police reports, ground­ed on the arbi­trar­i­ly inter­pret­ed arti­cle 22.9 part 2 of Belarus Code ‘On Admin­is­tra­tive Offens­es’ that pro­vides legal lia­bil­i­ty for ‘ille­gal pro­duc­tion and/or dis­tri­b­u­tion of mass media prod­ucts’. The oppres­sive prac­tice has been reg­is­tered since May 2014. Jour­nal­ists
    were fined 48 times with­in the peri­od since 2014 till 2016. In all the cas­es, it was not the con­tent of their mate­ri­als, but the mere fact of their appear­ance in for­eign mass media that led to pros­e­cu­tion. In most cas­es, the jour­nal­ists coop­er­at­ing with Bel­sat TV chan­nel were per­se­cut­ed. It is worth men­tion­ing that ‘Bel­sat’ is a con­stituent part of Pol­ish Pub­lic TV com­pa­ny (TVP). How­ev­er, it posi­tions itself as the first inde­pen­dent TV chan­nel of Belarus.

    The police con­duct­ed search­es and seized tech­ni­cal equip­ment at two ‘Bel­sat’ free­lance cor­re­spon­dents’ offices on March 31, 2017. Min­sk City Police Depart­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives explained the actions with the need to sat­is­fy the right holder’s claim on the trade mark pro­tec­tion.

    On April 3, 2017, the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists adopt­ed a state­ment that con­nect­ed the search­es and the seizure of tech­ni­cal equip­ment with the inten­tion of gov­ern­men­tal author­i­ties to ham­per the inde­pen­dent TV-reporters’ activ­i­ty in Belarus and ter­mi­nate any attempts of inde­pen­dent report­ing from mass protest actions.

    The accu­sa­tion of ille­gal coop­er­a­tion with for­eign media with­out accred­i­ta­tion was stat­ed in the crim­i­nal case against three Belaru­sian authors of a num­ber of Russ­ian media Yury Paulavets, Dzmit­ry Alimkin, and Siarhei Shypten­ka (the so-called ‘Reg­num’ authors’ case), too.

    Ini­tial­ly, they were charged with incit­ing eth­nic hatred (part 3 of Art. 130 of the Crim­i­nal Code of Belarus) that could result in 5 to 12 years of impris­on­ment. The crim­i­nal case was filed by the Legal Inves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee, fol­low­ing a claim from the Min­istry of Infor­ma­tion of Belarus on the pres­ence of extrem­ist mate­ri­als in the authors’ pub­li­ca­tions.

    Sub­se­quent­ly, two of the defen­dants were addi­tion­al­ly charged with con­duct­ing ille­gal busi­ness activ­i­ties, to which the legal inves­ti­ga­tion equat­ed receiv­ing hon­o­raria from the edi­to­ri­als of Russ­ian mass media. (How­ev­er, the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor exclud­ed the arti­cle from the list of charges lat­er on. It was done for the lack of evi­dence, prov­ing the receipt of sums by the defen­dants.) The case was referred to court in Octo­ber 2017. The defen­dants spent more than a year in jail before tri­al, i.e. since the moment of deten­tion in Decem­ber 2016.

    The posts of these three blog­gers are con­tro­ver­sial but that does not jus­ti­fy their impris­on­ment,” not­ed Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s East­ern Europe and Cen­tral Asia desk. “Accord­ing to inter­na­tion­al stan­dards, their pro­vi­sion­al deten­tion is nei­ther nec­es­sary nor pro­por­tion­ate.”

    The Min­is­ter of Infor­ma­tion of Belarus was changed on Sep­tem­ber 28, 2017. The deci­sion pre­ceed­ed the date, when the ‘Reg­num authors’ case’ was passed to court.

    Ali­ak­san­dr Kar­liuke­vich was appoint­ed to hold the posi­tion of the Min­is­ter of Infor­ma­tion of Belarus. Unlike his pre­de­ces­sor Liliya Ananich, A. Kar­liuke­vich had rich expe­ri­ence of jour­nal­is­tic and editor’s work in the past.

    The Min­is­ter A. Kar­liuke­vich not­ed in his first pub­lic speech on the ‘Belarus ‑1’ nation­al state TV chan­nel that a new ver­sion of the law ‘On Mass Media’ was devel­oped. Accord­ing to the gov­ern­men­tal offi­cial, it was aimed at ensur­ing the state reg­u­la­tion of Web-resources and social media.

    The ‘Belaru­sian Par­ti­san’ (www.belaruspartisan.org) pop­u­lar social and polit­i­cal Web-site was blocked for access from Belarus with­out any court deci­sions short­ly after­wards. It should be men­tioned that the Web-resource was found­ed by a famous jour­nal­ist Pavel Sheremet, who was assas­si­nat­ed in Kyiv in 2016.

    It is sug­gest­ed that pub­lic access to the Web­site was dis­abled on the ter­ri­to­ry of Belarus sub­ject to the read­ers’ com­ments on its pages. Con­se­quent­ly, the Web-site own­ers changed the domain zone and switched off the com­men­tary option on the Web-resource. Cur­rent­ly, the access to www.belaruspartisan.by remains open.

    The return of nine inde­pen­dent print­ed peri­od­i­cal edi­tions to the state-owned press dis­tri­b­u­tion monop­o­list net­works was the main pos­i­tive result of 2017. It should be remind­ed that all of them had been oust­ed from the ‘Sayuz­druk’ newsstalls and ‘Bel­posh­ta’ sub­scrip­tion cat­a­logues 11 years ago.

    The return of the peri­od­i­cals to the state-owned press dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tems was an imme­di­ate out­come of a meet­ing between Iosif Siaredzich, the ‘Nar­o­d­naya Volia’ newspaper’s Edi­tor-in-chief and the Pres­i­dent Ali­ak­san­dr Lukashen­ka that took place in Feb­ru­ary 2017. Dur­ing the meet­ing I. Siaredzich passed a list of nine peri­od­i­cal edi­tions to the head of state, not­ing that these peri­od­i­cals couldn’t get into this or that state-owned monop­o­list press dis­tri­b­u­tion net­work. The Pres­i­dent promised to solve the prob­lem.

    It is worth men­tion­ing that 20 inde­pen­dent social and polit­i­cal news­pa­pers were exclud­ed from the state-owned press dis­tri­b­u­tion net­works on the eve of a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign 11 years ago. The ‘Bel­posh­ta’ Nation­al Uni­tary Enter­prise refused to include the peri­od­i­cal edi­tions into the sub­scrip­tion cat­a­logues and the ‘Sayuz­druk’ enter­pris­es refused to sell them at news­pa­per
    kiosks. As a rule, the ter­mi­na­tion of con­tracts with the edi­to­ri­als of inde­pen­dent news­pa­pers was arbi­trar­i­ly moti­vat­ed by eco­nom­ic inex­pe­di­en­cy.

    Con­se­quent­ly, near­ly a half of these peri­od­i­cals left the print media mar­ket in Belarus.

    Against the back­ground of warm­ing rela­tions between Belarus and the EU in 2008, the ‘Bel­posh­ta’ and ‘Sayuz­druk’ enter­pris­es resumed coop­er­a­tion with ‘Nar­o­d­naya Volya’ and ‘Nasha Niva’.

    At the same time, quite a few of oth­er dis­crim­i­nat­ed peri­od­i­cal edi­tions from the list stopped their exis­tence by 2017.

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