Potentially Disloyal Journalist Fired from Mir TV Company
Ihar Stankevich, journalist of the policy and economy department of Mir TV Company told RFE/RL he was made to retire on suspicion in contacts with the opposition. The reason was the demonstration of a documentary during the Congress of Democratic Forces. The secret services suspected that a journalist of the state mass media presented the tapes to the opposition activists so that could use them for their chronicle of the political events in Belarus. Mr. Stankevich was informed he was the main suspect. The journalist also said he faced similar problems after the parliamentary election of 2004:
-- I prepared several materials with the participation of the opposition representatives Fralou and Liabedzka. Before the public broadcast they were viewed by the administration of STV Company. Nevertheless, later I was informed they received a telephone call from the Presidential Administration and told that it was prohibited not only to show opposition activists speak, but to show them at all. The following day after the referendum we showed the demonstration of protest and meeting of the opposition with the KGB head. Probably, it became the last straw, after which were didn’t receive any invitations to mass actions.
Ihar Stankevich also said to RFE/RL he was advised to retire after the elucidation of the Congress of Democratic Forces:
-- Moscow asked us, because we work for Moscow in favor of CIS countries, it asked to produce materials concerning the two days of the congress. The same week I was expelled from the presidential pool. It happened on Friday, and on Monday I was told to retire.
Iury Bokach, chair of Mir TV Company, explained to RFE/RL he tried to conclude a gentleman’s agreement with Stankevich by asking him to retire:
-- The materials were distributed without informing the company. This is the most important moment. Not to give any excess publicity to it we decided the situation could be solved with a gentleman’s agreement.
At the same time, Ihar Stankevich states he didn’t give the tapes to anyone. He is sure this is the beginning of firing politically unreliable journalists from the state mass media:
-- I believe, the clearing that started from non-state mass media will proceed to state ones. There are facts that witness it. For instance, a girl who belonged to Protestant denomination worked at the state radio. She searched information about Protestants on the web. When the administration found it out, she was fired. My own story is an eloquent example as well.