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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
New York, February 11, 2011--The Committee to Protect
Journalists condemns today's imprisonment in Minsk of
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.
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.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.