On April 7 in London the International Publishers Association awarded the Freedom to Publish Prize to Belarusian publisher Ihar Lohvinau.
“In October 2013, Belarus’ Ministry of Information withdrew Ihar Lohvinau’s licence to publish, due to “trespassing the rules of licensing”. They accused Lohvinau and his team of “extremism”. The reason was the publication of “Belarus Press Photo 2011”, a catalogue of photographs that includes this image of a protester who has been beaten up by the police,” writes IPA in the nominee profile.
Ihar Lohvinau did not appear at the awarding evening, sending his representative instead, but gave an interview to the BAJ press-service.
“The very fact of support is important for us because we are in the territory of non-guarantees here, so to say. And the prize is recognition, public outcry, which is at least a minimum guarantee of our survival and safety. If we did not have all these international contacts, everything would be shot from the hip with no doubts,” says Ihar Lohvinau.
The publisher is not sitting with folded hands after he was deprived of the license.
“Our best writers founded a public organization in Lithuania which is called not a publishing house, but more broadly - a “literary house”. They started publishing books there and simultaneously do projects connected with promotion of Belarusian literature abroad. The name Lohvinau has been preserved to publish the books under our old brand”.
“I am sure that this is a temporary decision. Anyway, absurdity cannot last with no end. I see my task to underline at all possible platforms how absurd licensing and registration of book publishing and book selling in Belarus. Even Russia does not have it, with all the ideological terror nowadays.”
A press-conference with the publisher Ihar Lohvinau will take place in October at the international book fair in Frankfurt.