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Belarus13 August 2002

Administrative obstacles threaten Radio Free Europe in Minsk

image 250 x 44 (GIF) Reporters Without Borders has expressed its concern over administrative obstacles threatening Radio Free Europe since the beginning of August.

"There is too little foreign media in Belorussia. It would harm the Belorussian population to be deprived of an alternative source of information to public channels, such as Radio Free Europe", said RSF General Secretary Robert Ménard, in a letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Mikhaïl Khvostov. "We ask you to award credentials to all Radio Free Europe journalists who wish to have them, and not to obstruct the relocation of editorial staff. Unless this is done, we must conclude that your government is trying by all possible means to evict Radio Free Europe from the country".

According to our information, the authorities have been putting pressure on Radio Free Europe since the beginning of August. On 1 August, a letter from the Minister for Foreign Affairs threatened to cancel the credentials of all journalists working for Radio Free Europe’s Belorussian service if documentaries made by unaccreditied journalists were broadcast. Eleven journalists out of twenty-one are affected. The ministry refused to meet with the head of the Belorussian service, Mr. Lukaschuk, to discuss the matter. Furthermore, unplanned renovation work has begun on the buidings rented by the radio station in Minsk, thereby forcing most of the journalists to work temporarily on borrowed premises, as well as forcing the editorial staff to find new offices.

A few weeks earlier, the radio station broadcast programmes in which several heads of literary publications made redundant by the President of the Republic, Alexandre Loukachenko, were allowed to speak.

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