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  • Practice of oppressing members of media in Belarus must change, OSCE Representative says

    VIENNA, 3 April 2015 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović reiterated her call on the Belarussian authorities to stop persecuting members of the media, following continued and repeated intimidations of journalists for doing their job.

    “The author­i­ties have to stop impos­ing restric­tive mea­sures on free­lance jour­nal­ists, hin­der­ing them to do their job in a free and safe man­ner,” Mija­tović said. “A con­struc­tive solu­tion to this issue should be reached.”

    Since the Representative’s lat­est state­ment on this issue in Decem­ber 2014, there have been six addi­tion­al cas­es involv­ing free­lance jour­nal­ists fined for work­ing with for­eign media with­out accred­i­ta­tion:

    Kon­stan­tin Zhukovskiy, fined on 2 April by court in Gomel;

    Inna Khomich, fined on 1 April by court in Brest;

    Ales Levchuk, fined on 26 March and 24 Decem­ber 2014 by courts in Brest;

    Laris­sa Shiryako­va, fined on 12 March by court in Gomel;

    Tama­ra Shchep­etk­i­na, fined on 6 March and 17 Decem­ber 2014 by courts in Brest;

    Ali­na Litvinchuk, on 16 Feb­ru­ary and 12 Jan­u­ary by court in Brest.

    The law enforce­ment offi­cials have brought sim­i­lar charges against two oth­er free­lance jour­nal­ists, Alexan­der Denisov and Alexan­der Kirke­vich, who may face admin­is­tra­tive penal­ties soon.

    “My Office stands ready to assist the author­i­ties in any way nec­es­sary in order to reverse this destruc­tive trend, as well as facil­i­tate a dia­logue and joint activ­i­ties of gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions and media orga­ni­za­tions on the top­ic,” Mija­tović said.

    The Rep­re­sen­ta­tive also not­ed the increased num­ber of warn­ings issued by the Infor­ma­tion Min­istry to media out­lets in recent months, in some cas­es relat­ed to pet­ty offens­es such as wrong­ly spelling name of the Min­istry, using abbre­vi­a­tion for indi­cat­ing Repub­lic of Belarus or post­ing pub­li­ca­tion data on a wrong page, etc.

    Offi­cial Belaruss­ian sources state that the Infor­ma­tion Min­istry has issued 27 warn­ings regard­ing 26 media out­lets in the peri­od from Jan­u­ary to March 2015. Accord­ing to the lat­est amend­ments to the law «On Mass Media” in Decem­ber 2014, media out­lets who receive two warn­ings or more from the Infor­ma­tion Min­istry, may lose their right to dis­trib­ute infor­ma­tion.

    Mija­tović also not­ed reports that a num­ber of inde­pen­dent online news plat­forms, includ­ing Charter97.org and Belaruspartisan.org have been inter­mit­tent­ly blocked at the end of March.

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