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2003 Policy Archive

Media Freedom in Belarus (May 30, 2003)

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
May 30, 2003

The United States deplores the latest efforts by the authorities in Minsk to stifle a free and independent media in Belarus. The Belarus Ministry of Information has decided to stop printing one of the country's leading independent newspapers, Belaruskaya Delovaya Gazeta, for three months beginning May 29. The government decision came after Belaruskaya Delovaya Gazeta published an article critical of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko and reports on criminal investigations of former administrators of state-owned enterprises.

This decision by Belarusian authorities is just the latest step in a campaign to muzzle the independent media. The Association of Belarusian Journalists reported recently that the Ministry of Information has also threatened to suspend the operations of four other privately owned newspapers.

The Belarusian Government's actions directly contradict Mr. Lukashenko's stated desire to improve relations with the United States and the European Union. Freedom of the press is a fundamental component of a democratic society. Continuing restrictions on fundamental freedoms imposed by the Government of Belarus are in clear contradiction of internationally accepted democratic standards. The United States calls upon the Belarusian authorities to allow the printing of Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta immediately and to cease their harassment of the Belarusian mass media.