For the first time ever, the Belarusian Association of Journalists is taking part in the Mass Media in Belarus expo. Over the past years, mainly state-run and commercial media as well as pro-government organizations have been welcome at the event.
“Enthusiastic reviews and praises are usually heard at the exhibition; most participants talk about how everything is going well for the media field, what good laws we have, how smooth the distribution of publications is. This year, we are here to tell people that it is not all that simple,” Barys Haretski, Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, said.
According to the international organization Reporters Without Borders, in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index Belarus ranked 153rd of 180 countries.
“What distinguishes the situation with the freedom of press in Belarus from the neighbouring countries is a high degree of state control over the media, and now we see that control extending to online media outlets,” BAJ Chairman Andrey Bastunets told Belsat.
“Earlier, physical violence was a makor threat, but at the moment, the journalists who work for independent media broadcasting from abroad, such as Belsat, are mainly facing fines,” media expert Paulyuk Bykouski said.
For the year to date, Belarusian courts have slapped fines totalling to 32,768 rubles on Belsat TV contributors.