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Natallia Radzina Speaks About Belarusian Media Situation At OSCE Conference

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Natallia Radzina Speaks About Belarusian Media Situation At OSCE Conference
Natallia Radzina

The situation with the freedom of speech in today’s Belarus remains critical.

On September 11, Editor-in-Chief of the website Charter97.org Natallia Radzina made a speech at the OSCE conference on human dimension issues, which is being held in Warsaw.

The journalist told about the repression against the independent media in Belarus, the problems of the very work of the media in the country, and called the international community for solidarity. Here is the full text of her speech for your attention:

- The situation with the freedom of speech in today’s Belarus remains critical.

On January 24 this year, the Belarusian authorities blocked the biggest independent news website Charter97.org. The audience of the website at the moment of blocking amounted to a total of 2.5 million unique users per month. For the last half of the year, Charter had 4 million unique users – this is half of the adult population of Belarus. Moreover, given that the website is struggling with the Russian propaganda, it is blocked in Russia today, in compliance with the decision of the Prosecutor General’s Office.

Simultaneously, Belarus adopted in the first reading the amendments to the law on the media, which provide for the expansion of censorship in the internet, introduce obligatory registration of all commentators at websites, and envisage blocking not only portals, but also social networks.

Today, freelance journalists, journalists who work for the media broadcasting from abroad (for example, Belsat TV-channel), are being persecuted en masse in Belarus, criminal cases have been started against popular video-bloggers.

Recently, the offices of the tut.by portal and BelaPAN news agency were searched, and editors and journalists of these media were arrested under made-up accusations. After that, the level of criticism of these media outlets with regard to the authorities dropped to zero, although it had not been very high before. The self-censorship of the journalists increased, just like direct censorship.

In an interview to the Washington Post, former Editor-in-Chief of the European Radio for Belarus Vital Zybliuk confirmed the widely known information that the independent media in Belarus have so-called “supervisors” in the KGB, who conduct conversations with the journalists.

The response to the demolition of the freedom of word in Belarus should be immediate sanctions from the side of the democratic states. However, we see the opposite happening – the contacts between the EU countries and the USA with the Lukashenka dictatorial regime are getting even closer. The financial aid form the EU to the dictatorship has significantly grown. Only recently, the Belarusian authorities have received over hundred million euros in the framework of the EU’s technical aid.

Herein, the help to the independent Belarusian media decreases all the time. The foundations which claim they are supporting democracy, in the actual fact support dictatorships. Today it is extremely hard for the Belarusian independent media to receive grants, although it is widely known that the GONGO which cooperate with the authorities, are financed on a regular basis.

The paradox lies in the fact that sharp decrease of financial aid to the independent media is happening against the background of loud public statements about the necessity of counteraction to the Putin propaganda as an integral part of the hybrid war.

Today, due to the sharp decrease of finance the very functioning of the website Charter97.org is under threat. Herein, Charter’97 has been working for 20 years by now, remains the leader among the Belarusian independent media, and has huge audience in Belarus, the region, the world.

On the same day with Charter’97, Russia's Novaya Gazeta announced serious problems with financing. Recently I was in Ukraine and I know that due to the lack of normal funding, the Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR is struggling to survive. How come? The leading media in the Crimea, Belarus and Russia are constantly balancing on the brink of closure while great politicians and democratic funds are shouting about the fight against Putin's propaganda. I think that colleagues from independent media of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kazakhstan and other countries of the post-Soviet space, where there still remains an independent press, will also agree with me.

Today, it is necessary to take emergency measures to change the situation.

It will be recalled that on September 3 editor-in-chief of Charter-97 Natallia Radzina announced the threat to informational resource cause by drastic reduction in financing and called readers for solidarity. Ways to support the website:

DONATION VIA PAYPAL:


MULTI-CURRENCY ACCOUNT FOR ASSISTANCE:

Bank's name: Bank Millennium S.A.

Address: ul. Stanislawa Zaryna, 2A, 02-593, Warszawa

IBAN: PL 97 1160 2202 0000 0002 1671 1123

SWIFT: BIGBPLPW

Name of the account holder: Fundacja “KARTA ‘97”

Purpose/title of payment: Donation for statuary aims


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