Deputy Foreign Minister Yauhen Shastakou has provided a response to Belarusian viewers who asked the ministry to grant accreditation to Belsat TV. The appeal signed by 186 persons appeared on petitions.by in January.
The petitioners demand the Belarusian officials give reasons why the Foreign Ministry has repeatedly refused accreditation to Belsat, as well as ensure independent media outlets’ undisturbed work. According to the appeal, state-run television has a monopoly on broadcasting in Belarus.
“Citizens of the Republic of Belarus have the right to receive accurate information about developments in the country without any propaganda complexion. At the moment, senior citizens do not have permanent free access to the Internet; therefore, they cannot obtain unbiased information from sources which are alternative to official ones,” the petition reads.
In addition, the authors stress that freedom of speech and the right to information are inalienable rights of a human being. In their opinion, information isolation may have dire consequences; independent journalism should be inviolable.
In his letter, the MFA representative has referred to the laws under which journalists and correspondent offices, not channels, are acredited in Belarus.
“‘The accreditation of the satellite channel Belsat’ which is mentioned in your appeal does not appear in the questions falling within the competence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is not included in the list of administrative procedures performed by the ministry,” Shastakou said.
The diplomat recalled that in 2014 the Supreme Court banned the channel from using the Belsat TV trademark for broadcasts in the territory of Belarus following a complaint by Andrey Belyakou, the owner of BELSATplus company.
Belsat TV, which has been broadcasting for over 11 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.