December 12, 2023

12.12.2023 – SEEMO Condemns Repeated Pressure on Journalists in Belarus

In a concerning development, on 7 December 2023, former employees of the now-defunct Ranak (Ранак) media company in Svetlogorsk / Svetlahorsk / Svyetlahorsk (Светлагорск), Belarus, faced a renewed wave of detentions and interrogations. The company had previously been liquidated, and this recent series of events follows a pattern of escalating pressure on media professionals. Yulia Dauletava (Юлія Даўлетава), who was the editor of Ranak, and correspondent Lyudmila Andenka (Людміла Андэнка) were detained and taken to the temporary detention center in Zhlobin (Жлобин), Belarus. Yulia had previously been detained on 3 August 2023, accused of insulting a police officer online, an incident for which she was forced to publicly apologize. Both have covered protests in Belarus in 2020.

Ranak, a private media company, once a significant source of information in the Gomel / Homieĺ Region (Гомельская вобласць), faced challenges earlier in the year when eight staff members were arrested in June 2023. The detained employees were tried for distributing “extremist” materials. The media outlet, involved in TV and radio news production, publishing the Ranak-Plus newspaper, and advertising, subsequently ceased operations. The Ministry of Information blocked the media outlet’s website, and on 4 July 2023, the Chyhunachny District Court in Homel (Гомель), Belarus labeled the website and social media pages as “extremist materials.” The Ministry of Internal Affairs labeled the TV channel Ranak as an “extremist organization” on 5 September 2023.

The recent detentions come amid an ongoing crackdown on independent journalism in Belarus. The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), strongly condemns these actions, emphasizing the importance of a free and independent press. The authorities’ continued suppression of media outlets and journalists poses a severe threat to freedom of speech and the public’s right to information. SEEMO will closely monitor the situation, advocating for the release of detained journalists and urging respect for press freedom in the region.

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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