Pavel Selin Gets Deported for Report About Funeral of Vasil Bykaw
The NTV Russian channel Pavel Selin has been deported from Belarus for his TV report about the funeral of Vasil Bykaw. The authorities have prohibited him to enter the country for five years. Besides, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has applied to the Soviet of Ministers with the request to suspend the work of NTV correspondence station in Minsk until official apologies of the NTV authorities concerning Selin’s report of 25 June.
On 28 June Pavel Selin was summoned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and given the deportation notice (BelTA information). According to Zmitser Parton, the MIA press secretary, the reason for such decision was the NTV broadcast in the evening of 25 June, devoted to the funeral of Vasil Bykaw. The MFA took the view that the report was aimed at destabilization of the situation in the country and provoking of confrontation between people of different political views. Using provisions of Article #25, point 2 of the Law “About the juridical status of foreign citizens and persons without citizenship in the Republic of Belarus”, the Ministry decided to deport the correspondent as a person whose actions “contradicted to interests of state security and public order”.
Before this summon the journalist was deprived of his accreditation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to the information BelTA obtained from the MFA press secretary, in its decision, taken on 27 June, the accreditation commission was guided by the results of the investigation, conducted by “competent bodies” of Belarus. The investigation confirmed that “the report information doesn’t meet the reality, has prejudiced and provocative nature, is aimed at destabilization of the situation in the country and is harmful to the authority of state bodies”. The press secretary also emphasized that before this Paviel Selin had received two warnings for “corruption of facts”.
In his interview to “Ekho Moskvy” P. Selin said that MFA officials mentioned three points the higher authorities disliked about his report. First of them was that the journalist touched on the problems with the dwelling permission for the writer’s widow that appeared short before the writer’s death. Next two were elucidation of the officially inspired actions at the ceremony and attempts of the authorities to interfere with carrying the writer to the cemetery. However, Selin thinks that the real reason was the sharp commentary of Stanislaw Shushkevich about Lukashenka’s absence at the funeral.
In his interview of 29 June Nikolay Senkevich, the general director of NTV, stated that the journalist executed his duty correctly, as every journalist should do. The same day the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its regret with the deportation and stated it would wait for explanations from Minsk. This information was reported by NTV with reference to the official MFA representative
These days many Russian mass media recollected a number of similar conflicts with Belarusian authorities. For instance, in 1997 the NTV corresponded in Belarus Alexandr Stupnikow was treated in the same way, a criminal case was brought against the ORT journalist Pavel Sheremet. They also remember their officially persecuted Belarusian colleagues Pavel Mazheyka, Mikola Markevich and Viktar Ivashkevich.