Belarus moves to expel journalists working for western media

Action follows the arrests of several reporters this week

Oliver Carroll
Minsk
Saturday 29 August 2020 15:43
Comments
Police detained protesters demonstrating against the election results
Police detained protesters demonstrating against the election results

In an unexpectedly sharp escalation, Belarus on Saturday removed accreditations from local journalists working for western news outlets.

The move affects about a dozen journalists from organisations including the BBC, Reuters, Radio Liberty, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press.

It follows several rounds of arrests this week, all of which suggest that Alexander Lukashenko’s regime is getting serious about reasserting control.

On Friday, a TV crew working for German public broadcaster ARD was arrested. They spent the night in a police station before being deported.

In the 20 days since the disputed presidential elections, Belarus has presented anything but ideal working conditions for journalists.

In the first few days, dozens were beaten, arrested, and jailed in horrific conditions. There was evidence that some were deliberately targeted with rubber bullets.

Most foreign media were refused the right to work in the country; The Independent was an exception. Many have chosen to travel to Belarus regardless, but working undercover carries not inconsiderable risk.

Saturday’s decision, which comes ahead of a mass rally planned for Sunday, was communicated to journalists in a round of morning phone calls.

“They called me from the foreign ministry and said that by resolution of the government’s information security commission, my accreditation has been rescinded,” the BBC’s Tatyana Melnichuk told local media.

“To my question about what I was being accused of, I was told that they were only authorised to convey the information.”

The ban has not been extended to Russian journalists from state television channels, who have been working in Belarus from a privileged position.

Journalists working for Kremlin-funded RT were almost immediately released when detained on Thursday, while their colleagues at other media outlets waited for hours.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in