Organization “Reporters Without Borders” in Austria honored two Belarusian journalists – Natallia Radzina, the chief editor of the charter97.org website, and Yahor Martsinovich, the deputy editor of the newspaper "Nasha Niva", – with the 2015 International Press Freedom Awards.
The awarding ceremony took place on December 10 in Vienna.
Natallia Radzina won the Press Freedom Award for her article “Stop kissing dictators' hands”, Yahor Martsinovich for the journalist investigation regarding the living conditions of Belarusian officials in the elite village Drazdy.
The Award jury, which is patronized by UNESCO, includes Freimut Duve, the first OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, an OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media, Eva Nowotny, the President of the Austrian Commission for UNESCO, Wolfgang Petritsch, an Austrian Ambassador at the OECD in Paris, Albert Rohan, Former General Secretary of the Austrian ministry of foreign affairs, Rubina Moehring, the President of Reporters Without Borders Austria.
At the ceremony, the OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic said:
“Martin Luther King said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. When hope for the changes fades away there always are people among us who fight for freedom and are eager to change the world. My 6 years’ experience as an OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media tells me that we live in very difficult times; these are the times of serious challenges. Today, we need journalists more than ever - they monitor and unmask the authorities.
Winners of the Reporters Without Borders Prize are exactly the journalists who work in difficult and uncomfortable times,” quotes charter’97 the OSCE Representative in Freedom of the Media. “Belarus is very close, here in Europe, just as my native Bosnia and Herzegovina. We should constantly talk about problems in such countries, constantly mention names of people who suffer in prisons.”
Albert Rohan, the former General Secretary of the Austrian ministry of foreign affairs, noted that in 2015 Belarus took the 157th place among 180 countries in the report of the organization “Reporters without Borders” of and 195th place among 197 places in the ranking of freedom of speech, published by Freedom House.
“This means that Belarus is in the last place in terms of freedom of speech among European countries. At the same time the EU has suspended the sanctions against the Lukashenka’s regime due to its constructive role in the Ukrainian conflict. But these signs of “détente” should not deceive anyone, as before, there is an authoritarian government in Belarus, the media are under pressure, and the Internet is often blocked. Belarusian journalists deserve our recognition, because in spite of repressions, they continue to do their important work.”
Rubina Moehring, the President of Reporters without Borders, noted:
“Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression of opinion and to disperse and receive information through media. Lukashenka has long been referred to as Europe's last dictator. Once, in person, Ms. Radzina explained to me that because of the inability to speak critically many people in the country go into internal exile. Hearing this, we understand how well we live in our own countries. Therefore, we must support those who have the courage to express their opinion openly in such countries as Belarus. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms without any distinction, political or other opinion, national or social origin.”