The American Center for Exchange and International Research (IREX) reports the deteriorated situation with the freedom of speech in Belarus last year. This information is provided in the "Index of media stability in 2004". The "Index" offers an assessment of the development of the media in the 20 countries of Eurasia. The report assesses the freedom of speech, pluralism of the media available to the public, standards of professional journalism, media stability and efficiency of the institutes that support the independent media, says the Charter-97 press service.
Last year the Ministry of Information of Belarus suspended the activity of 25 newspapers for "minor technical violations" in the opinion of experts. With the help of presidential decrees, new norms and unofficial instructions, the government deprived the independent media of the possibility to obtain and distribute news and earn money", says the report. Furthermore, the central and regional authorities prevent "problem journalists" from getting accreditation, and unofficially forbid printers to print opposition newspapers.
"At the same time the Constitution of Belarus guarantees the freedom of speech, the authorities in fact permanently persecute those whose words do not agree with the state policy", says the "Index of media stability in 2004". "Draft laws show that access to the Internet will be restricted. Also, a state public council for media control may be created", argue American experts. Last year the greatest progress among the countries that are investigated has been made by Ukraine.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.