The South East Europe Media Organisaton (SEEMO) vehemently condemns the sentencing of Aliaksandr Mantsevich (Аляксандр Барысавіч Манцэвіч), born on 5 August 1958, publisher, founder and editor-in-chief of the regional independent newspaper Regyonalnaya Gazeta (Рэгіянальнай газеты), to four years in prison. This verdict underscores the relentless suppression of independent journalism in Belarus and the authoritarian regime’s determination to silence critical voices.
Mantsevich’s imprisonment is an alarming indication of the escalating crackdown on local independent media in Belarus. The Belarusian authorities started first targeted national independent media and then moved to eliminate journalism at the local level.
Regionalnaya Gazeta was the first governmental critical local media from Maladzyechna (Molodechno- Маладзечна), town with 90000 inhabitants, in the Minsk Region, covering with regional news four districts of Minsk area and three districts of Grodno area. It was founded in 1995 as a print media, and after state pressure it had since 2021 only an online edition.
The charges against Mantsevich revolve around allegations of “discrediting Belarus and its authorities” through his newspaper from 1 January 2020, until his arrest on 15 March 2023. These accusations are part of a broader effort to stifle dissent and curb the freedom of the press.
SEEMO stands in solidarity with Aliaksandr Mantsevich and all journalists in Belarus who are enduring oppression, imprisonment, and exile due to their commitment to truth and free expression. We call on the Belarusian authorities to drop all charges against Mantsevich, release him immediately, and respect the fundamental principles of democracy and press freedom.
It is crucial for the international community to continue monitoring the situation in Belarus, support independent Belarusian media, and advocate for the release of detained journalists and the repeal of oppressive laws. Press freedom remains a cornerstone of democracy, and its violation should not be tolerated. The work of independent journalists is vital in holding those in power accountable and ensuring the public’s right to access truthful information.
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non-profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.
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