MEDIA FREEDOM
Belarus: Press freedom violations August 2019
11 Sep 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.

4 Incidents

Journalist covering protests in Brest receives messages with threats

21 August 2019 – Journalist Nasta Zakharevich, who has been reporting on the construction of a controversial battery factory located in Brest, received insulting messages and a veiled threat from an account on VKontakte social network.

The VKontakte account is known for often leaving harsh and rude comments under posts authored by opponents of the plant. Earlier an individual with the same name and surname as the VKontakte profile that made the comments had filed a complaint with the police against ecological activist Dzmitry Bekalyuk, who is an opponent of the plant. The compliant accused accused Bekalyuk of “discrediting the Republic of Belarus.”

Link: https://charter97.link/en/news/2019/8/21/345601/

http://greenbelarus.info/articles/21-08-2019/zhurnalistka-kotoraya-pishet-pro-zavod-akb-v-breste-poluchila-soobshcheniya-s

Categories: Online Defamation/Discredit/Harassment/Verbal Abuse, Intimidation                       

Source(s) of violation: Known private individual(s)

State-run newspaper concealed opposition symbol on photo

Belarus Pahonia

Coat of arms associated with Belarusian opposition. It was previously the country’s coat of arms in 1918 and from 1991-1995. (Photo: Wikipedia)

15 August 2019 –  Adzinstva, the local state-owned newspaper in Barysau, altered a photo published on its website of sports coach Viktar Zakharjeu to hide the previous state emblem of Belarus Pahonia, which is regarded by the authorities as an opposition symbol.

Pahonia was the official emblem of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in 1918 and of the Republic of Belarus from 1991 to 1995. It was abolished after Alexander Lukashenko became the country’s president, though it is not officially prohibited and is included on the Republic of Belarus’ cultural heritage list.

Links: https://baj.by/be/content/barysauskaya-rayonka-adzinstva-zamazala-pagonyu-na-svitshoce-geroya-intervyu

http://www.edinstvo.by/ru/news/obshchestvo/item/9153-borisovchanin-stal-pervym-trenerom-v-belarusi-po-krossfitu-v-invalidnoj-kolyaske?fbclid=IwAR3Z1yq6x92K-ZtxfF2DdNn1CY33vQVCCzVTwTZ95e6npWOzB2XDVsbCPh0

Category: Censorship                          

Source(s) of violation: Employer/Publisher/Colleague(s)

Regional government official refused to provide information on communicable disease

14 August 2019 – An official for the Brest regional government refused to provide information on a case of anthrax in the Stolin district to Aksana Brovach, a journalist working for the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi.

The official said that all the information was available from on the state-run news agency BelTA: “Can you read? How is it written there?”

The press-service of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food only published an official announcement about the anthrax case on the BelTA news agency.

Link: https://baj.by/be/content/usya-infarmacyya-na-belta-u-bresckim-ablvykankame-admovilisya-davac-kamentar-nakont-vypadku

Category: Blocked Access                      

Source(s) of violation: Government/State Agency/Public official(s)/Political party

After accusations, local independent news outlets investigated by police

13 August 2019 – Ivan Sukharevich, a resident of the town of Drahichyn in the Brest region, sent letters to the National Assembly of Belarus and to the news website Piershy Rehijon editor-in-chief Piotr Huzajeuski. In the letters,  Sukharevich expressed his negative attitude to this online media outlet and particularly to its Drahichyn correspondent Siarhei Hardzijevich.

The writer warned of the serious consequences for the Piershy Rehijon if its journalists try “to shake up the community of our town and region” on the eve of the parliamentary elections and demanded to bring Hardzijevich to responsibility.

Accusations of lying are mentioned many times in the letter, but no evidence was provided for the accusations.

Sukharevich’s complaint was sent to the Drahichyn district police department to be investigated. Hardzijevich got a written response from the police that no evidence of illegal activity had been found.

Link: https://1reg.by/2019/08/13/drogichinskiy-pravdorub-pozhalovalsya-v-parlament-na-korrespondenta-pershaga-reg-yonu/

Categories: Offline Defamation/Discredit/Harassment/Verbal Abuse   

Source(s) of violation: Known private individual(s)

Index calls on Arron Banks to drop SLAPP lawsuit against Carole Cadwalladr

We, the undersigned organisations, welcome today’s judgment on meaning in the case of Arron Banks vs Carole Cadwalladr. The judgment clarified the context of the comments that form the basis of this lawsuit, and noted that aspects of the claimant’s argument were “far-fetched and divorced from the specific context in which those words were used”. […]

Judge makes preliminary ruling in Carole Cadwalladr libel case (The Guardian)

A judge has issued a preliminary ruling in a libel action against the investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr and warned that broadcasts and public speeches should not be interpreted as though they were formal written texts. A coalition of free press organisations, including Reporters Without Borders and Index on Censorship, called on Banks to withdraw the legal […]

Free speech and human rights organisations call for Turkish novelist Ahmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak and other journalists to be released

Ahead of the second hearing in the retrial of Turkish novelist Ahmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak and four other journalists and media workers, free speech organisations call for all detained defendants to be released and for the charges to be dropped

Index on Censorship calls for release of Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera

Index on Censorship calls for the release of Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera who has been held in prison for two months

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