Belarus “show trials” begin

Thursday 17 February saw the beginning of the hearing against Vasil Parkiankou. The trial, which is being held in Minsk, has been described by an opposition activist as a mere “show trial”. Parkiankou is accused of smashing the windows of a government building in the course of a demonstration in December. This is a “public order offence”. He was protesting against vote rigging in the presidential election. Human rights organisation Viasna have said that more than 40 opposition members will be tried. They face up to 15 years of imprisonment.

This Saturday there will be a solidarity protest outside the Belarusian Embassy in London.

Turkish court refuses to release journalist

The Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court rejected a bid to release journalist Suzan Zengin in a hearing on Tuesday. She writes for the Worker Peasant newspaper (İşçi Köylü). Charged with “membership of an illegal organisation”, she faces up to 15 years in prison. Her next hearing will take place on 14 June, by which stage she will have been detained for almost two years. Meanwhile, a person known only as K.B. has been arrested for plotting to assassinate Turkish journalist Mehmet Metiner, who believes he was targeted because he adheres to AKP policies.

Hungary’s leading daily newspaper challenges media law

Hungary’s largest circulation daily newspaper, Nepszabadsag, is challenging the controversial new media law in the country’s Constitutional Court. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief has brought complaints about 16 areas of the law which, the paper alleges, limit press freedom and freedom of opinion. The new regulations, introduced on 21 December 2010, allow the National Media and Communications Authority (NMHH) to impose substantial fines on TV and radio stations. Freedom House has described the legislation as a “major setback for press freedom in Hungary“.