Belarus6 March 2009
Call for end to unofficial ban on foreign journalists
Reporters Without Borders today urged Belarus to end its systematic refusal to give permission to foreign journalists to work in the country, saying they were the target of “ridiculous bureaucratic and political behaviour.”
A new media law that came into force on 8 February requires all foreign journalists to get accreditation from the foreign ministry before coming to Belarus, but requests have been systematically refused, “forcing journalists to work illegally,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. It formally protested to foreign minister Sergei Martynov.
Ivan Roman, of the privately-owned Polish-Dutch station Radio Racyja, was refused accreditation on 4 March on grounds that he had previously worked illegally in the country. The day before, officials refused to renew the accreditation of Andrei Pochobut, of the independent Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, because they said his recent articles about the country’s politics were unsatisfactory. Two Radio Racyja journalists were also refused accreditation for the same reason in January, even though the new law had not yet come into force.
An accreditation request made last December by the privately-owned TV station Belsat, which broadcasts in Belarusian from Poland, was refused on 2 March by the foreign ministry as “incomplete.”
Radio Racyja and Belsat are two of the few sources of independent news in Belarus, which ranks 154th on the Reporters Without Borders annual world press freedom index.
Read the RSF open letter to Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov :
Letter to Belarus Foreign minister