VITEBSKI KURYER COMES OUT WITH BLANK PAGES
The Vitebski Kuryer, one of the oldest independent newspapers in Belarus, came out with blank pages instead of TV schedule. The editors addressed the readers to explain the reasons for that.
In their appeal to the readers the editors explained the general situation on the informational space of Belarus: economic and political pressure on non-state mass media, liquidation of NGOs, etc.
The newspaper editors believe this tendency continues by the decision of the Board of the President’s Administration of 27 October 2003. The board decided to transfer all rights to distribution of TV program to the state BelTA information agency. "This way, it became a state monopoly", -- says the appeal.
The journalists tell the story of their attempts to sign a contract with BelTA. They spent the whole January trying to get the contract for publishing a TV program for the basic TV channels of the country. In February 3 the editors have finally received the draft contract for February 2004, under which they were supposed to pay 5 million 25 thousand Belarusian roubles (2 340 USD). (Earlier the newspaper paid about 100 thousand roubles – about 45 USD).
"This is the total monthly salary of all our staff. Our journalists cannot work without salaries, because we all have families, and not all the readers can afford to pay 1 thousand roubles for an issue… This is just another time when the authorities brutally show the poor Belarusians, what they must listen, watch, and read. We continue to fight for our constitutional rights. We hope the Vitebski Kuryer readers buy the newspaper not only because of the TV program. We hope the authorities have made a mistake here…", -- the editors say in their appeal to the readers.
People who want not only to express their opinion on the newspaper pages but personally clarify the situation, can contact the authorities on the following numbers:
President’s Administration. Department for Citizens’ Appeals:
+375 17 222-32-17
BelTA: +375 17 227-19-92; +375 17 226-10-35
Prosecutor General: + 375 17 206-57-27
Vitebsk regional executive committee. Information Department:
+375 212 37-61-50