On March 26, reports appeared that some Belarusian providers blocked access to Charter’97, Belaruspartisan, Viasna.
BAJ received an official reply to its request filed to the ministry of Home Affairs; journalists asked to publicize the internal ruling that banned taking pictures of administrative buildings. The deputy head of the chief department on crime prevention and maintaining public order I.Kubrakou answered that “lately, there have been facts in the country when citizens, including foreign ones, took photos of administrative buildings with the purpose of further discrediting of state bodies.” So, measures were taken to prevent potential threats – “from provocations to terrorist acts”. The official representative claims that law enforcement agencies have the right to find out for what purpose such pictures are taken. However, they are not obliged to publicize an internal document. The lawyer of BAJ Andrei Bastunets said BAJ would file a claim against the “internal document”.
Most discussed issues of the period were written warnings to several independent mass media for minor faults and an internal document of the Ministry of Home Affairs which prevented people from taking pictures of administrative buildings.
Several recent incidents with photo reporters alarmed the society: who ordered to check identities of people that take pictures of administrative buildings? A copy of the internal ruling appeared on the internet, reports Euroradio.
Law enforcement agencies keep following work of independent journalists contributing to foreign mass media. Besides, a new trend appeared: the Ministry of Information started issuing warnings to independent regional newspapers for minor insufficiencies in publishing data. Editors consider it to be a renewed approach aimed to place newspapers in vulnerable position before the forthcoming presidential elections.
The publication is a detailed analysis of the situation concerning media freedom in all six countries of the Eastern Partnership: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as a prognosis of future developments. The book also contains the most recent Eastern Partnership Media Freedom Index (for July – October 2014), prepared by the project’s experts.
Within the reporting period, there were threats and obstacles to journalists’ work; state agencies kept answering something about the blocking of websites in December; and the commission on extremism announced it found no banned contents in a human rights report.
On February 10, the Supreme Court of Belarus heard the appeal of Lohvinau against the decision to fine the bookstore for “illegal entrepreneur’s activities”.
On March 16 the Ministry of Information registered Lohvinau bookstore in the Register of distributors of printed products.