Go »
  Go »

Belarus

2011


Belarusian website Charter 97 attacked, shut down

Charter 97 Editor-in-Chief Natalya Radina at CPJ's 2011 International Press Freedom Awards. (Muzaffar Suleymanov/CPJ)

It's not unusual for Charter 97, a Belarusian pro-opposition news website, to be disrupted online. CPJ has documented intimidations, threats, and arrests against its staff members, the murder of its founder, and denial-of-service attacks against the website.

CPJ's annual International Press Freedom Awards dinner took place at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

The Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria might seem like an odd venue to stage a call for resistance. Nine hundred people in tuxedos and gowns. Champagne and cocktails. Bill Cunningham snapping photos. This combination is generally more likely to coax a boozy nostalgia than foment a revolution. But the journalists honored last night at CPJ's annual International Press Freedom Awards had a clear message to their colleagues: Fight the power.

Plainclothes police arrest a protester in Minsk. (Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko)

In a rare development, the Belarusian general prosecutor, Grigory Vasilevich, stepped up for journalists and defended their right to report on ongoing political protests. According to a statement issued by his press office on Friday, Vasilevich sent a letter to Interior Minister Anatoly Kuleshov in which he reminded his colleague of journalists' rights under the law. While noting that police have a duty to protect public order and that journalists have an obligation to comply with national laws, Vasilevich urged Kuleshov to instruct police to do their work without obstructing reporters. 

New York, July 7, 2011--Belarusian authorities must immediately cease their ongoing crackdown against the independent press and release all journalists in state custody, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Police in Minsk and other cities across the country detained at least 28 journalists on Wednesday who were covering protest rallies that opposition activists have been holding weekly since late May, according to the Minsk-based Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) and reports in the local and international press

New York, July 6, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the defamation conviction of Andrzej Poczobut, a Grodno correspondent for the largest Polish daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, and calls for it to be overturned on appeal.

Belarus plainclothes policemen detain protesters during a Minsk protest on Wednesday. (AP)

New York, June 30, 2011--In a new crackdown against the independent press, Belarusian police briefly detained and beat more than a dozen reporters, and broke their equipment at a Wednesday protest rally in Minsk and Brest, according to news reports and CPJ sources in Belarus. 

New York, June 14, 2011--Belarusian authorities must end the retaliatory prosecution of Andrzej Poczobut, a Grodno-based correspondent for the largest Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, and release him immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

New York, June 1, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the deportation of Rodion Marinichev, a special correspondent for the Moscow-based online broadcaster Dozhd (The Rain), from Belarus, and the ban on his reentry into the country. CPJ calls upon Belarusian authorities to remove their sanctions against the journalist.

Khalip (Reuters)

New York, May 16, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's conviction and sentencing of Irina Khalip, the Minsk-based correspondent for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and calls on Belarusian authorities to acquit her on appeal. 

Today, the Zavodskoi District Court in Minsk declared Khalip guilty of "organizing and preparing activities severely disruptive of public order," and gave her a two-year suspended prison term, local and international press reported. The charges stem from her critical reporting on the December 19 protests in Minsk against the rigged presidential vote held the same day.

The world’s worst online oppressors are using an array of tactics, some reflecting astonishing levels of sophistication, others reminiscent of old-school techniques. From China’s high-level malware attacks to Syria’s brute-force imprisonments, this may be only the dawn of online oppression. A CPJ special report by Danny O’Brien

A security line outside Google's Beijing office. (AP/Andy Wong)



In our special report, "The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors," CPJ examines the 10 prevailing strategies of online oppression worldwide and the countries that have taken the lead in their use. In this accompanying podcast, CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney notes that these strategies range from sophisticated cyber-attacks to traditional brute-force techniques. Listen to the podcast on the player above, or right click here to download an MP3. (2:47)

Read CPJ's special report, "The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors."

New York, April 29, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns attempts by the Belarusian Information Ministry to close down the opposition newspaper Narodnaya Volya and the independent newspaper Nasha Niva, and called on the ministry to stop its harassment of both publications.

(Reuters)

It has been four long months since security forces snatched Irina Khalip, at left, from Minsk's Independence Square while she was reporting on a protest of the flawed December 19 Belarusian presidential vote.

While Khalip was giving a live account from the square to the Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, riot police beat her and forcibly drove her away. (Her husband, opposition presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, was repeatedly struck with clubs and also arrested. He remains imprisoned today.) Khalip was one of at least 20 journalists detained that night, but her treatment has been especially harsh.

New York, April 26, 2011--Belarusian authorities must immediately stop harassing independent media outlets in retaliation for their critical reporting on the recent lethal bombing on the Minsk subway, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Following the blast, authorities--including the Information Ministry, the general prosecutor's office, and the Belarusian security service (KGB)--launched a campaign of intimidation against independent and pro-opposition media outlets that reported on the incident. The outlets targeted for retaliation have criticized the official investigation into the explosion and the rescue efforts.

New York, April 12, 2011--Belarusian authorities must drop politicized libel and insult charges against Andrzej Poczobut, a Grodno-based correspondent for Poland's largest daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, and release him immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

AP

New York, March 30, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Belarusian authorities today to stop the politically motivated prosecution of Andrzej Poczobut, a prominent correspondent for Poland's largest daily, Gazeta Wyborcza.

On Monday, prosecutors in the western city of Grodno filed criminal charges against Poczobut for allegedly insulting Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko in articles printed in Gazeta Wyborcza and the Belarusian news website Belarussky Partizan beginning in October 2010, local and international press reported. Poczobut faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

On the Runet, Old-School Repression Meets New

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev launched a blog but the Kremlin promised to tightly control who can comment on it. (Reuters)

By Nina Ognianova and Danny O'Brien

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has often talked about the importance of a free press and free Internet, telling reporters before his election that the Web "guarantees the independence of mass media." He explicitly tied the two together in his first State of the Union address in November 2008, declaring that "freedom of speech should be backed up by technological innovation" and that no government official "can obstruct discussion on the Internet."

Top Developments
• Authorities wage post-election crackdown, raiding newsrooms and jailing reporters.
• New Internet law requires registration of sites, tracking of user activity.

Key Statistic
20: Journalists detained as government silences coverage of election protests.


In a massive post-election crackdown, authorities raided news outlets and detained at least 20 journalists covering protests over a flawed December 19 presidential vote that delivered a new term to incumbent Aleksandr Lukashenko. Leading journalists such as Natalya Radina, editor of the pro-opposition news website Charter 97, and Irina Khalip, correspondent for the Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta, were among those being held in late year. Security agents stormed newsrooms of major outlets, including Radio for Belarus and the satellite television channel Belsat. Observers with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe criticized the government for secretive vote-counting practices and suppression of news media.

New York, February 11, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's imprisonment in Minsk of Andrzej Poczobut, a Grodno correspondent for the largest Polish daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, and calls on Belarusian authorities to release him immediately.

New York, January 31, 2011--Belarusian authorities must lift restrictions on newly freed journalists Natalya Radina and Irina Khalip, and drop the fabricated charges against them, the Committee to Protect Journalist said today. CPJ also called for the immediate release of the still-jailed reporters Boris Goretsky and Yevgeny Vaskovich.

After defying the EU for years, Uzbek President Islam Karimov is welcomed by Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission. (Reuters/Thierry Roge)

Unless European Union officials mean to expose the inconsistency of their own policymaking, they should stand firm by their declared commitment to defend press freedom and human rights in the former Soviet countries. For now, their drastically different approaches to authoritarian leaders in Belarus and Uzbekistan leave one questioning the EU's strategy. 

New York, January 18, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists deplores the ongoing imprisonment of independent journalists in Belarus and urges authorities to cease their crackdown and release all jailed reporters and editors. On Monday, authorities in Minsk and the eastern city of Mogilev jailed two more independent reporters on politicized charges. 

New York, January 13, 2011--As a part of the ongoing crackdown in Belarus on independent reporters, the Belarusian security service (KGB) has detained journalist Andrzej Poczobut, a Grodno correspondent for the largest Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, and freelance reporter Irina Charniauka in Minsk, local press reported today. Poczobut was also summarily tried and fined

New York, January 12, 2011--As part of an ongoing assault on the independent press in Belarus, KGB agents in Minsk raided the apartments of imprisoned journalist Irina Khalip and her mother, Lyutsina Khalip, and took the journalist's computer, the independent news website Charter 97 reported. Today's raids are the second at each apartment since the agency imprisoned the journalist on December 20, according to Charter 97. Khalip is the local correspondent for the Moscow-based independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. 

Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov holds a portrait of imprisoned journalist Irina Khalip during a rally in front of the Belarussian Embassy in Moscow. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)
New York, January 11, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the ongoing official crackdown against the independent media in Belarus. The Belarusian security service, known as the KGB, continues to relentlessly raid newsrooms, confiscate reporting equipment from publications and journalists' homes, imprison independent and pro-opposition journalists, and harass their families.
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko speaks in Minsk on December 20, the same day riot police forcibly dispersed thousands of demonstrators protesting the results of a flawed presidential vote. (AP/Sergei Grits)

New York, January 3, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on the European Union today to condition its diplomatic relations with Belarus on the release of all recently arrested journalists and the halt of official Minsk's crackdown on the independent press.

« Previous Year: 2010 | Next Year: 2012 »

  Go »
Text Size
A   A   A
Killed in Belarus

2 journalists killed since 1992

2 journalists murdered

2 murdered with impunity

Attacks on the Press 2012

10th Most censored country, with prosecutions and travel bans used against critics.

Country data, analysis »

Contact

Europe and Central Asia

Program Coordinator:
Nina Ognianova

Research Associate:
Muzaffar Suleymanov

nognianova@cpj.org
msuleymanov@cpj.org

Tel: 212-465-1004
ext 106, 101
Fax: 212-465-9568

330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor
New York, NY, 10001 USA

Facebook: CPJ ECA Desk

Blog: Nina Ognianova
Blog: Muzaffar Suleymanov