The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed criticism after reports surfaced about several media freedom violations against four journalists in Belarus on Monday, 30 October.
Freelancer Alina Skrabunova was detained by members of the police force in the center of Mogilev, a town in eastern part of Belarus. Skrabunova was allegedly taken in for “producing unlicensed journalism” by filming reports. Aliaksand Barazenka and Hanna Aziemsha were penalized for their freelance work with individual fines of BYN 575 (approx. 250 EUR). Two other journalists were also harassed with large fines – Volha Chaychyts and Andrei Koziel were ordered to pay 1,035 Belarusian rubles (approx. 500 EUR) in fines each. All of the journalists were fined using the same accusation: “producing mass media products illegally” for Belsat TV channel.
SEEMO is highly critical of the behavior and actions of Belarus police and court institutions. SEEMO calls on authorities in the country to allow journalists to perform their job freely and without added stress of detentions, financial fines and censorship attempts. So far in 2017, Belsat-associated media workers have had to pay a total sum of almost 12,000 EUR in fines and have been sentenced to dozens of stints in jail.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.