Stop crackdown on Belarus independent media

08.07.2021 Source: BAJ Press Service

Statement of the Belarusian Association of Journalists       

Stop crackdown on Belarus independent media

On the morning of July 8, officers of the law enforcement agencies raided the office of Nasha Niva and the homes of its staff. NN staff stopped responding to phone calls, some of their homes were searched.

After the search, NN chief editor Yahor Martsinovich and editor Andrei Skurko were taken away for questioning.

Simultaneously, the Ministry of Information blocked the NN.BY website, "on the basis of the General Prosecutor's notice due to the placement of information, dissemination of which is prohibited by Article 38 paragraph 1 of the Law "On Mass Media". Access to the website is restricted not only in the country, but also abroad.

The police also raided the offices of regional newspapers Intex-press and Brestskaya Gazeta (which have been recently thrown out of the state system of distribution and printing), as well as the homes of a journalist and the editor of website.

The authorities also continue to put pressure on TUT.BY. Just yesterday, the Economic Court of Minsk had a closed session upholding the decision of the extra-judicial commission to recognize the materials of the portal as extremist. 15 employees TUT.BY and partner organizations are behind bars.

Altogether, 25 journalists and media employess are in jail or under house arrest in Belarus today (not inlcuding NN staff whose fate is still unknown).

In Hrodna, a court is considering the case to recognize the materials of Telegram channel as extremist.

In Brest, news editor of Aleh Supruniuk is tried for "spreading extremist materials".

The Belarusian Association of Journalists points out:

- under the guise of fighting extremism, the authorities are trying to destroy the Belarusian independent newspapers;

- the result of repression against independent media and journalists will be the opposite of what its initiators hope for. Instead of verified information presented under the standards of journalism ethics, people will seek and obtain information that does not meet even the minimal professional standards.

The Belarusian Association of Journalists demands to stop the crackdown of free speech in Belarus.