Belarus: Access to information restricted

Although the parliamentary election and the referendum are already over, the struggle of officials against “undesirable” information doesn’t stop. In January, a great number of lawless limitations of the right to receive and distribute information were registered. (22-JAN-05)
 

Although the parliamentary election and the referendum are already over, the struggle of officials against “undesirable” information doesn’t stop. In January, a great number of lawless limitations of the right to receive and distribute information were registered. (22-JAN-05)

In the evening of 5 January the police detained the member of United Civil Party (UCP) A. Tsurbakow in Homel. A policeman came up to Tsurbakow when he distributed the newspaper, read it and called for support. Then A. Tsurbakow was taken to a Borough Board of Internal Affairs, where the police composed the report of detention, confiscated eight copies of the edition and took the detainee’s fingerprints. In 1,5 hours Tsurbakow was let go. On 10 January he was summoned to the police again. They asked him to bring a copy of the newspaper’s registration certificate and a copy of the agreement for distribution. When he did it, they returned to him the confiscated copies of the newspaper.

On 17 January in Vitsebsk the police detained the vice-head of UCP Alena Zaleskaya to Vitsebsk Kastrychnitski BBIA. There the police composed a protocol and confiscated several copies of the newspaper. She didn’t manage to convince them that the newspaper was issued officially and she didn’t violate anything. The policemen said they would pass the documents to court which would define whether she was guilty.

On 18 January the activists of Zubr movement Pavel Uhrynovich, Maksim Dvaretski and Mikalay Ilyin were detained in Russian-Belarusian University while handing out Vybar newspaper to students. Then the police took them to Mahiliow City Police Board.

In the evening of 18 January Homel Tsentralny Borough Court ruled to make oral admonition to the correspondent of Narodnaya Volia newspaper in Homel region Iryna Makavetskaya for violation of article # 166 of the Code of Administrative Violations – disrespect to court. The journalist thinks that the punishment is relatively mild because the authorities don’t want a scandal around the events where the law machinery demonstrated its dark side.

About a week ago The ideology board of Hrodna Regional Executive Committee filed letters to state enterprises and institutions of the city with “recommendations” not to put their advertisement in non-state newspapers. This information was provided to Belarusian Association of Journalists by the journalist of Birzha Informacii newspaper Natallia Makushyna. The editorial board also has a copy of such letter.
    
Together with the “recommendation” Hrodna enterprises received the list of the state institutions that put their ads in non-state newspapers. Among them there is Hrodna State University, the milk factory and the meat combine.

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