Again: Belarus Foreign Ministry ducks question about Belsat TV accreditation

During today’s online conference the Belarusian Foreign ministry has been asked why Belsat TV cannot be accredited in Belarus.

When answering the question, the ministry employees pretended to miss the point and simply stated that the channel got no accreditation by the moment.

It is not the first time the ministry has evaded the answer. At May’s Minsk Dialogue forum, Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey failed to give the reason why Belsat TV had repeatedly denied accreditation in the Republic of Belarus.

When the question was voiced, a spokesman took Makey away from the reporters. Receiving no answer, our corresponded posed the same question to the top official again.

“Contact the press service,” he finally answered.

Belsat TV, which has been broadcasting for over 10 years, has been denied accreditation for its journalists. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly declared that it could not issue any accreditation to Belsat because the journalists working for the TV station … break the law.

Thus, the circle closes: journalists are denied accreditation because they break the law and they break the law, because they work without accreditation that they seek… And it explains the existence of absurdist Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code, which provides punishment for ‘illegal production and distribution of media products’. If you have accreditation, you are allowed be a journalist. If you do not have it – you are outlawed.

Because of the work in the ‘partisan’ conditions, Belsat employees are often on trial for illegal production of media materials (Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code) and work without accreditation. In 2017 alone, Belsat contributors paid to the state as much as $14,000 in fines. According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, last year, 94% of fines for alleged illegal manufacturing of media materials fell on the journalists of Belsat.