The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) strongly condemns the recent decision by the Belarusian Supreme Court to designate the Belarusian Investigative Center (Беларускі расследавальніцкі цэнтр) (BIC) (https://investigatebel.org/en), an independent investigative media outlet based in the Czech Republic, as “extremist.”
According to several local sources, on 15 September, 2023 the Belarusian Supreme Court in Minsk, Belarus, held a session where it confirmed the extremist classification of the Belarusian Investigative Center (BIC) as requested by the prosecutor. This ruling is one additional form to destroy independent journalism and critical media in Belarus. BIC was named as extremist in October 2022.
BIC, affiliated with the Organized Crime and Corruption Research Center (OCCRP) (https://www.occrp.org/en), has been consistently engaged in investigative journalism, including collaborations with the in Belarus banned independent Polish broadcaster Belsat TV (Белсат) (https://belsat.eu/en). These investigations have shed light on potential corruption schemes involving high-ranking officials.
Designating BIC as an “extremist” entity carries substantial legal consequences, such as the possibility of imprisonment for those displaying its logo and a complete ban on its activities within Belarus. Additionally, the authorities have alleged that BIC has been involved in the distribution of “extremist” content and the dissemination of inaccurate information concerning Belarus’ political, economic, social, and international affairs, along with discrediting government institutions.
Belarus has consistently aimed at journalists and autonomous media entities, with BIC now joining an expanding roster of media organizations branded as “extremist” under the regime’s crackdown. SEEMO urges Belarusian authorities to uphold press freedom and put an end to these repressive measures against journalists and media organizations functioning in the nation.
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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