European Federation of Journalists

Belarus: repression continues on the 2nd anniversary of the fraudulent elections

A woman reacts as she sits in front of law enforcement officers during a rally to protest against the presidential inauguration in Minsk on September 23, 2020. Credit: TUT.BY / AFP.

In Belarus, since the fraudulent presidential election of 9 August 2020, journalists have faced hundreds of arrests and detentions. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joins its Belarusian affiliate, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), in condemning the indiscriminate repression by the regime of dictator Alexander Lukashenko. The EFJ and BAJ demand the immediate release of the 30 journalists and media workers currently imprisoned in Belarus.

9 August 2022 is the second anniversary of the most recent presidential election in the Republic of Belarus. Two years ago, instead of recognizing the democratic choice, the authorities overturned it through the use of violence, as well as the harsh suppression of democratic forces and freedom of expression. And now the regime has jeopardized the independence of the country itself by supporting the Kremlin’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

Over the past two years, the Belarusian media have faced unprecedented pressure from the State, which has the sole purpose of destroying independent journalism in Belarus. Imposed measures have included the tightening of the legal regulation of media, the labeling of many independent media outlets as “extremist formations” and their publications as “extremist materials”, restrictions on free access to independent media websites, and the closures of independent media outlets, as well as creating obstacles to the distribution of printed media; these are only a small part of the large-scale repressive policy deployed by the authorities.

Moreover, there have been mass arbitrary detentions of media workers (480 cases in 2020, 113 cases in 2021), often accompanied by physical and psychological violence, as well as the damage or seizure of professional equipment, along with prosecution in the form of administrative arrests and fines; such actions have also become part of the toolset in the fight against independent journalists. However, one of the most egregious forms of persecution was the initiation of politically motivated criminal cases against individual representatives of mass media. Currently, 30 media workers are behind bars in Belarus.

Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of any democratic society. BAJ, the largest democratic association of media representatives in Belarus, despite the pressure from the authorities, has carried on with its activities to protect media freedom and freedom of expression in Belarus. The EFJ and BAJ are convinced that the international community should not turn a blind eye to the repression of the independent media sector and the flagrant violations of human rights against media representatives in Belarus.

The EFJ joins BAJ in calling on journalists around the world and journalistic and human rights organizations to appeal to the Belarusian authorities to stop repressing the media and citizens for expressing their opinions. The EFJ urge its affiliates to appeal to their governments to use their political influence on the Belarusian authorities to restore freedom of expression in Belarus, which is not only a fundamental freedom but also a criterion for exercising all other civil and political rights.

“Public opinion should not forget the tragedy of the Belarusian people,” said the EFJ President Maja Sever. “Intergovernmental organisations must step up their pressure on the Lukashenko regime and on all those who collaborate with the Belarusian dictatorship. We must demand the release of journalists, trade unionists and all those who are in prison simply for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression”.

The EFJ calls once again for the immediate release of the 30 journalists and media workers detained in Belarus:

  • Ekaterina Andreyeva
  • Daria Chultsova
  • Ihar Losik
  • Siarhei Gordievich
  • Ksenia Lutskina
  • Andrei Aleksandrov
  • Dzianis Ivashyn
  • Andrzej Pachobut
  • Marina Zolatova
  • Lyudmila Chekina
  • Valery Kostyugova
  • Alexander Ivulin
  • Yahor Martynovich
  • Andrei Skurko
  • Iryna Levshina
  • Dmitrii Navazhilov
  • Genadz Mazheyka
  • Iryna Slavnikova
  • Andrei Kuznechyk
  • Siarhei Satsuk
  • Oleg Gruzdilovich
  • Yury Gantsarevich
  • Dmitriy Luksha
  • Konstantin Zalatykh
  • Ales (Alexander) Lyubyanchuk
  • Yuliya Mudrevskaya
  • Yuriy Gladchuk
  • Vitaly Andras
  • Alena Andras
  • Anatoly Bukas