Hristos Purgurides: “Persecution of Mass Media in Belarus is Everyday Practice” (Radio “Liberty”)
The apparatus of the Council of Europe has distributed the text of the preliminary report of the deputy of the Cyprus Parliament Hristos Purgurides about persecution of mass media in Belarus. “The name of the report completely explains the situation: it’s a pity, but persecution of mass media in Belarus is an everyday phenomenon”, -- Mr. Purgurides points out in his report, that hasn’t been received by Belarusian Ministry of Information yet.
The draft report of the members of the PACE Committee on politics Hristos Purgurides has been received neither by the OSCE office in Minsk nor the Ministry of Information of Belarus yet. On the week-end the head of the OSCE mission Eberhard Heiken attended a conference in Belavezhskaya pushcha, that’s why the hopes of Mr. Purgurides that the office would distribute the text of the draft report about the situation with mass media in Belarus didn’t come true. The Ministry of Information couldn’t give any comments on the document either.
It’s worth mentioning that the report of Mr. Purgurides contains much criticism towards the Ministry of Information of Belarus that for this year has suspended a number of independent newspapers, which is a reason for the report. The Council of Europe is also concerned with the future law on mass media that will be enforced in Belarus. Some time ago in his interview to Radio “Liberty” Hristos Purgurides stated that the Minister of Information Uladzimir Rusakevich promised him to send the long-awaited draft law on press, but then his assistant Viktar Kazlow denied it and said that during the meeting at the Ministry of Information Mr. Purgurides was interested in other questions.
Kazlow: “The conditions for distribution, subscription prices, some other common materials. We gave it all to him. He didn’t ask for the text of the draft law. Accordingly, the Minister couldn’t promise it to him. There is a ruling according to which any draft law can’t be given to anyone before the Parliamentarians get it.”
The report of Hristos Purgurides really informs about unequal conditions for State and independent mass media concerning the distribution prices and the accessibility of the printing houses. The document also proposes to the National Assembly to set aside the articles of the Law on press that defend President and other officials from criticism, oblige printed mass media to registration and give the Ministry rights to take sanctions against mass media.
Do independent mass media hope that the report of Mr. Purgurides will bring any results? That’s how vice-President of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Andrey Bastunets answered:
“I don’t think that any reports or decisions of European bodies can change anything with the situation in Belarus. However, if there were no such statements and decisions of the appropriate bodies, the situation would have been yet worse. They at least help us not to fall into an abyss completely.”
In his report Hristos Purgurides recommends to Belarusian authorities to adopt the laws that would guarantee absence of the State mass media monopoly and discrimination of non-State mass media. He also advises the Central Electoral Commission and Belarusian State TV to provide equal and fair access to ether to all political parties and independent candidates during elections, especially the Parliamentary election that will take place next year. Andrey Bastunets thinks that these wishes of Mr. Pugurides will remain only wishes:
“It’s clear that they won’t do it during the election. On the contrary, the law about mass media that is elaborated by the authorities provides this State monopoly. One of the BAJ members said even that this draft law could be called not the law “On mass media”, but the law “About guarantees of the State monopoly on mass media”.