Belarus: Solidarity with Belarusian journalists

The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) have again expressed their solidarity with Belarusian journalists as the crackdown against critical voices continues. The Federations have urged European authorities to take immediate action against the Belarusian government for violating media freedom with impunity and undermining the public's right to know.

Credit: Michal Cizek / AFP

UPDATED on 8.07.21

On 30 June, detained journalist Andrej Aliaksandraŭ was charged with high treason. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison. Aliaksandraŭ, who has been in custody since January, was previously charged with ‘organising and preparing actions grossly disturbing public order’. Those charges were based on allegations that he helped pay the fines of journalists and protesters who were detained in last year’s anti-Lukashenko demonstrations.

On 2 July, freelance journalist Andrei Tolchyn was convicted for violating Art. 23.5 (illegal production and distribution of media products) while reporting from a pre-trial detention center before the trial of political prisoners Mikola Statkevich, Siarhei Tikhanouski, Dzmitry Popov, Artsyom Sakau, Ihar Losik and Uladzimir Tsyhanovich. While filming, unknown assailants threw him into a van and injured his leg. The journalist was found guilty and fined 870 rubles. The court confiscated his journalistic equipment.

On 3 July, footballer and sports journalist for Aliaksandr Ivulin was suspected of organising or participating in actions that seriously violate public order. No further information was disclosed on the alleged crime and it is not known which of his articles is involved. Ivulin is the author of the most popular video blog about Belarusian football. He has been transferred to a pre-trial detention centre. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison. Ivulin and his video editor Yaroslav Pisarenko were sentenced in early June to 30 days and 15 days in prison respectively, allegedly for hanging a white-red-white flag at the window (symbolising the resistance), which they deny. Ivulin was meant to be released on 3 July 2021.

On 5 July, Belarusian authorities also closed down the bureau of Euroradio, an international radio station that provided independent information. 

On 6 July, Raman Vasyukovich, who works for the international TV channel Nastoyaschego Vremya, was tried for “violating the order of production and distribution of media products” because of his report on 25 May. This charge is used against journalists who have not obtained accreditation from the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or who have prepared content for foreign media. Vasyukovich faces an administrative sanction.

The same day,  Aleh Suprunyuk, editor of the “First Region” news site was arrested at home for allegedly making and distributing extremist materials (Article 19.11 of the Administrative Code). Suprunyuk is the former chairman of the Brest branch of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, an IFJ/EFJ affiliate, and faces a huge fine or administrative arrest.

On 8 July, Jahor Marcinovič, editor-in-chief of the independent press organisation Naša Niva, was arrested. Belarussian authorities also blocked access to the Naša Niva website and conducted raids. On the same day, they arrested Igor Kazmerchak, editor for the website

To date, 25 journalists and media workers in Belarus are subject to criminal proceedings. 

EFJ director Renate Schroeder said: “We call again on the European governments to intensify pressure and take action in the face of constant violations of human rights and press freedom in Belarus. We stand in solidarity with all the Belarusian journalists who are under terrific pressure. We won’t let you down”.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said : "This ongoing crackdown on journalists is shameful and we cannot remain silent when an increasing number of our colleagues are being threatened, harassed and jailed for simply doing their job. We call on world journalists to continue reporting on these blatant violations of media freedom in Belarus and strongly urge European governments to take the appropriate sanctions  against a country that is infringing freedom of expression in full impunity and denying the public's right to know".

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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