Belarus Ministry of Information suspends publication of “Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta” and “BDG. Confidential” monthly newspaper
May 29, 2003. Minsk, Republic of Belarus
In accordance with the orders of the Minister of information of the Republic of Belarus, M.Podgainy, ## 96 and 97 of May 28, 2003 publication of “Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta” (“BDG”) and “BDG. Confidential” was suspended for the term of 3 months.
Publication of articles in the “BDG” and “BDG. Confidential” which, according to the text of the order, contradict to articles 5, 32, and 40 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On press and other mass media”, were the grounds for the decision. The order also notes that the decision on suspension of publishing of the newspapers has been taken on the grounds of statements of the Procurator’s Office of the Republic of Belarus on elimination of breaches of the legislation on press.
The first warning was pronounced to “BDG” for the article “Lordly image” (#57 of April 18, 2003) – blitz-interviews on the theme whether“Alexandre Lukashenko has the right to dispose at his own will the aircraft of the head of state. The article is the outline of personal opinions of the respondents. Nevertheless, the Ministry saw in the article an attempt of the newspaper to mislead people and to discredit honour and dignity of the President of Belarus.
The second warning was received by “BDG” for the article “Where are “Leonov’s millions”?” (#62 of April 29, 2003). According to the text of the order, “materials of the criminal case were published without written clearance of the judge” in the article, which contradicts to the Article 5 of the Law “On press and other mass media”. However, the article is a report from the open court sitting, and the “BDG” correspondent was officially accredited to the sitting.
“BDG. Confidential” received the warning for the article “The magic crystal”, which, according to the Minister, “disseminates not authentic data”, which contradicts Articles 32 and 40 of the Law. The same problem as well as desire to “mislead citizens of the Republic of Belarus” the Minister of information found also in the article “The system does not count victims. Disgrace led ex-minister to suicide” (“BDG. Confidential” #4, 2003). For that article the warning to the newspaper was pronounced yet on April 17, 2003. The editors believe that the Minister’s evaluation of the content of both articles, as put in the texts of the warnings, is freely interpreted and is not proved by facts.
Complaints against the warnings of the Ministry of information were lodged by the editorial office of two newspapers, appropriate letters were sent to the Supreme Economic Court of the Republic of Belarus. However, the Minister of information, not waiting for court examination, issued the order on suspension of the publications activities.
The order of Minister Podgainy got to “BDG” and “BDG. Confidential” on May 28, in the evening. The leadership of the publishing company took the operative decision not to let out the prepared for printing-house issue of “BDG”. In the current situation printing of this issue of the newspaper? According to the Article 16 of the Law “On Press” could be a reason for closing down of the publication by court.
“All the four warnings are of far-fetched character and inconsistent juridically in their essence,” Svetlana Kalinkina, chief editor of “BDG” and “BDG. Confidential” says. “So, all this can be viewed upon as an attempt of illegal punishment,” she adds.
“BDG” and “BDG. Confidential” leaders do not agree to the claims of the Ministry of Information, do not find legal reasons for warnings in each of the four cases, and they are going to try to get cancellation of the order on suspension of publishing the two newspapers by court.
“No doubts, this is not a legal decision but a political one,” Pyotr Martsev, director general of “Marat” publishing company, founder and owner of “BDG” and “BDG. Confidential”, believes. “We hope, those who have taken the decision understand its possible consequences. Hardly can it lead to the result they wish. Newspapers in Belarus were published and will be published. We shall go all the legal way and prove the groundlessness of accusations addressed to us. Publishing of both the newspapers will be renewed, moreover, we’ll adhere to same principles of informing our readers for which they value us,” he said.
“Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta”
“Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta” was founded in 1992. “Marat” Publishing Private Unitary Enterprise is the founder and publisher of the newspaper. “BDG” is an independent daily for Belarusian business and political circles. “BDG” is a most influential media outlet in Belarus. For the period of its history, Belarusian authorities more than once tried to suspend publishing of the paper, however, it was renewed in the shortest time possible. Currently weekly circulation of “BDG” is 65,000-70,000.
“BDG. Confidential” was founded in 2002 as a monthly paper for independent journalistic investigations. “Marat” Publishing Private Unitary Enterprise is the founder and publisher of the newspaper. The topics of the publication are unique for printed media in Belarus. Its circulation has been growing issue by issue and now it is 26,000-27,000 copies. Since the first issue of the “BDG. Confidential” the paper has been under close scrutiny on behalf of various Belarusian government agencies.
For further information:
Svetlana Kalinkina, Chief Editor
“Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta” and “BDG. Confidential”
Tel/fax (375 17) 216 25 83, 216 25 85