MEDIA FREEDOM
Belarus: Press freedom violations May 2019
31 May 2019
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

Index on Censorship’s Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom project tracks press freedom violations in five countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Learn more.

8 Incidents

Blogger Piatrukhin detained to prevent him from covering ecological protest in Brest

26 May 2019 – Blogger Siarhei Piatrukhin was preventively detained by the Brest police on the basis of a flimsy pretext and taken to the Leninski district police department shortly before the start of an ecological protest. He had to spend about an hour at the station.

For more than a year, Brest residents have been protesting against the construction and launch of the iPower battery plant in the Brest free economic zone which may harm the environment in the region.

Link(s)

 https://belsat.eu/en/news/ahead-of-protests-brest-blogger-preventively-detained/

Categories: Arrest/Detention; Blocked Access

Source of violation: Police/State security

President signs decree allowing the blocking of websites during the European Games

20 May 2019 – President Lukashenko signed decree №19 on security measures during the European Games in Minsk (17 June to 2 July).

The authorities intend to temporarily block all the websites calling for participation in unauthorized protests during the European Games in Belarus. According to the document, from 20 May to 30 June this year such websites are to be detected and to be blacklisted within 24 hours.

In addition, the decree also prohibits the use drones at sports venues, hotels and fan zones during the European Games. Unauthorised drones will be seized until 2 July. The exception is the equipment belonging to the governmental bodies and the Games organizers.

Link(s)

https://baj.by/en/content/belarusian-government-block-websites-calling-protests-during-european-games

http://charter97.link/en/news/2019/5/21/334837/

Category: Legal Measures

Source of violation: Government

Investigative journalist makes statement on his discrediting by Russian propaganda websites

16 May 2019 – The editor of the Belarusian service of the International Volunteer Community Inform Napalm and journalist for the Novy Chas newspaper Dzianis Ivashyn made an official statement on the smear campaign against him by some Russian websites. Ivashyn noted that some representatives of Belarusian media outlets are engaged in this campaign as well. The campaign began in mid-April 2019. 

The main participants of the campaign, according to Ivashyn, are antimaydan.info, news-front.info, novorosinform.org, politnavigator.net, telegram channels 338 and Trikotazh and several others.

Ivashyn said he believes security ministries of the Russian Federation are behind the campaign due to the nature, method and channels of dissemination of disinformation about him.

Link(s)

 https://baj.by/be/content/belaruski-zhurnalist-zayaulyae-pra-cisk-z-boku-rasiyskih-internet-resursau

Categories: Online Discredit

Source of violation: Another media

Investigative journalist makes statement on his discrediting by Russian propaganda websites

16 May 2019 – The editor of the Belarusian service of the International Volunteer Community Inform Napalm and journalist for the Novy Chas newspaper Dzianis Ivashyn made an official statement on the smear campaign against him by some Russian websites. Ivashyn noted that some representatives of Belarusian media outlets are engaged in this campaign as well. The campaign began in mid-April 2019. 

The main participants of the campaign, according to Ivashyn, are antimaydan.info, news-front.info, novorosinform.org, politnavigator.net, telegram channels 338 and Trikotazh and several others.

Ivashyn said he believes security ministries of the Russian Federation are behind the campaign due to the nature, method and channels of dissemination of disinformation about him.

Link(s)

 https://baj.by/be/content/belaruski-zhurnalist-zayaulyae-pra-cisk-z-boku-rasiyskih-internet-resursau

Categories: Online Discredit

Source of violation: Another media

Radio Racyja's journalist failed to obtain accreditation from foreign ministry

15 May 2019 – The Belarusian ministry of foreign affairs denied accreditation to Yauhen Skrabets, a journalist for the Belarusian Radio Raciya (Poland), as a foreign correspondent.

In response to Yauhen Vapa, the head of the radio station, the ministry said that the accreditation had been denied because Radio Raciya had previously used non-accredited journalists in the last six months. 

Link(s)

 https://baj.by/be/content/mzs-belarusi-admovila-u-akredytacyi-yashche-adnamu-zhurnalistu-radyyo-racyya-kopiya-adkazu

Categories: Blocked Access; Legal Measures

Source of violation: State Agency

Two independent journalist from Vitsebsk fined

15 May 2019 – The trial of independent journalists Alena Shabunia and Viachaslau Lazarau took place in the Navapolatsk town court. A judge found both journalists guilty of “illegal production and distribution of media content” under Article 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Offenses and fined them 637.50 Belarusian rubles (more than 300 dollars) each.

The pair were on trial because their video of an accident at the Polimir Navapolatsk enterprise was shown on Belsat TV channel.

Link(s)

http://charter97.link/en/news/2019/5/16/334236/

https://baj.by/be/content/vicebskih-zhurnalistau-ashtrafavali-za-videasyuzhet-pra-avaryyu-na-zavodze-palimir

Category: Fines

Source(s) of violation: Police, Court

Foreign Ministry refused to accredit Radio Racyja journalist for the tenth time

14 May 2019 – A foreign ministry officer told Hrodna journalist Victar Parfionenka in a telephone conversation that he has been denied accreditation again.

Parfionenka has been contributing to the Belarusian Radio Racyja registered in Poland for 10 years. Every year he appeals to the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for accreditation as a foreign correspondent and always gets rejected.

Link(s)

https://m.charter97.org/ru/news/2019/5/13/333944/

Categories: Blocked Access; Legal Measures

Source of violation: State Agency

Ingush blogger detained and deported to Russia without trial

10 May 2019 – The authorities have ordered the extra-judicial deportation of Russian critical blogger Ismail Nalgiev after his arrest in the Minsk airport on 8 May 2019.

His lawyer said law enforcement agencies did not disclose the reasons for the blogger’s arrest. Nalgiev has been held in the detention center in Minsk since he was arrested at the airport while he was trying to leave Belarus. He was told that he was on the Russian list of wanted persons. Then the blogger was told that he was charged with a misdemeanor.

It was expected that the charge would be considered on May 10 by the Kastrychnicki district court of Minsk, but in the morning the detainee’s lawyer was informed that there would be no trial and Nalgiev had already been deported.

Link(s)

http://charter97.link/en/news/2019/5/10/333562/

https://belsat.eu/en/news/ingush-blogger-ismail-nalgiev-expelled-from-belarus-without-trial/

http://spring96.org/en/news/92886

https://baj.by/be/content/ingushskogo-blogera-vyslali-iz-belarusi-bez-suda

Categories: Arrest/Detention; Legal Measures

Source of violation: Police/State security

More on this case

Journalists among those barred from attending a session on redevelopment in Minsk

3 May 2019 – Journalists were not allowed to attend the session on the redevelopment of a section of the center of Minsk, which was held in the Pershamaiski district administration of Minsk behind closed doors.

Two dozen local residents, who had submitted written appeals to be present at the session, gathered at the door, but they and media outlets — Radio Liberty and news website TUT.by — were barred from attending.

When Radio Liberty’s Ina Studzinskaya approached the door, a police senior lieutenant roughly threw her out of the office.

Link(s):

https://www.svaboda.org/a/29918765.html

http://charter97.link/ru/news/2019/5/3/332790/

Categories: Blocked Access, Physical Assault

Source of violation: State Agency, Police

Pakistan’s media forced into self-censorship

Pakistan’s journalists have faced harassment and interference, pressure on media owners is common, and the government has taken to interrupting the distribution of news it dislikes.

Organisations call on Russia to end targeting of journalists covering Moscow protests

A coalition of eight media freedom and journalists’ organisations are calling on Russian authorities to immediately stop the harassment of journalists who have been covering the recent protests in Moscow.

Syrian photographer documents destruction by walking tightrope

His absolute independence is what saved him in all the years that he stayed in Raqqa, even during the years that Isis was in charge

Russia: As space for independent media shrinks, journalists find themselves under increasing threats of physical violence

This report looks at 175 incidents that Index on Censorship’s Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom project classified as threats, limitations or violations of press freedom in Russia between 1 February 2019 and 30 April 2019.

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