Non-state Newspaper Nasha Niva Is Being Liquidated

2006 2006-04-18T10:00:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

According to

The non-state newspaper Nasha Niva has received a letter from Minsk City Executive Committee in which it was said that placement of Nasha Niva in Minsk is inexpedient because on 22 March its chief editor Andrei Dynko was sentenced to 10 days of arrest. That’s why the legal address of the newspaper is annulled. It’s worth mentioning that Mr Dynko was detained on 21 March, when getting out of bus route #100 in Kastrychnitskaia square during the peaceful action of protest against the falsification of the election. Then he was sentenced to 10 days of jail for alleged violation of article 156 of the Code of Administrative Violations (petty hooliganism). At the trial he was accused of swearing.

Since 1 January the state monopolists Belsaiuzdruk, Minharsaiuzdruk and Minablsaiuzdruk refused to distribute the newspaper in Belarus and Belposhta excluded it from the subscription catalog. On 10 April the Ministry of Communications refused to issue to the newspaper the license for organization of non-state subscription net. The same day the newspaper received a letter from Minsk City Executive Committee that was prepared by the ideological department of the CEC signed by the deputy chair M.Tsistsiankou.

The editorial board of the newspaper applied to its readers with the following appeal:
Nasha Niva is cynically closed down on the eve of its 100th anniversary. In 1915 the first Nasha Niva was closed after the occupation of Vilnius by the troops of the German Kaiser. In 2006 the same is done by Lukashenka’s administration. Earlier the Belarusian authorities tried to save maintain the visibility of respect to the legal procedures. Newspapers were closed down or suspended from publishing following certain court verdicts or orders, issued by the Ministry of Information. Nowadays, it appears to be enough to get a decision from ‘the ideological department’. It is a mere absurd from the legal point of view. Even the current Belarusian law On press does not preview getting any permits for the location of editorials by some ideological departments. Moreover, the activity of enterprises cannot be placed in dependence from the administrative punishment of its head. Nasha Niva hasn't broken the law. It is indicative that the newspaper hasn't had any official notifications from the Ministry of Information of Belarus.

The state authorities are closing down the first Belarusian newspaper that is a symbol of the Belarusian national identity. The state authorities are closing down the last independent newspaper, published in Belarusian. The closure of Nasha Niva is a symbolic beginning of the third Presidential term of Aliaksandr Lukashenka. The last Belarusian-speaking lyceum is closed. Belarusian-speaking rock-groups are banned from radio and TV. The process of closing up the Union of Writers has been launched. Dozens of newspapers are banned, starting up own radio and TV in Belarusian language is illegal. The extermination of cultural alternatives is elevated to the rank of state policy. Single-level Soviet identity is imposed to people. Today it is a question of not saving Nasha Niva or independent press only. Salvation of the Belarusian cultural identity as such is at issue now.

Age-old cultural tradition of a whole people mustn't become extinct in the Europe of the 21st century.

In such conditions we ask the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture to apply to UNESCO for including the newspaper Nasha Niva into the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Lithuania has the moral right to do it, since Nasha Niva was issued in Vilnius in 1906-1915 and 1991-1996. 100th anniversary of the paper which had set up Belarusian literary language, Belarusian classic literature, Belarusian state idea is a good occasion for that. We ask the governments of other countries, international and non-government institutions, which have such a right, to support this application with UNESCO. This symbolic step may be the last thing the world can do for the Belarusian press.

We also appeal to international community to immediately intensify their support of all independent Belarusian mass media ever existing.

We appeal to our readers to be self-possessed and optimistic.

Legal proceedings, appeal of Minsk City Executive Committee, etc. can last from months to years. In spite of such uncertainties the paper will be published in its today's format until there is a possibility. It is impossible to forecast how long it will be. E.g. we don't know for how long the printing house will print the paper. Later on we'll have something else.

Firstly, the Internet. Even the closing of the enterprise Nasha Niva does not mean closing the web-site of the paper.

It is important to preserve the edition in paper for the national cultural tradition.
Since publishing Nasha Niva in Belarus ‘is not appropriate’, that would be logical to consider the matter of transferring the newspaper abroad. However that would entail legal and financial perplexities. In the situation of the ban on distribution, Nasha Niva is published at the cost of donations from private persons. We have received some 4000 of them from all over Belarus since the beginning of the year. Nevertheless if the paper is closed and then transferred and registered abroad, the reader will have no direct opportunity to make a money order for the paper. Until the paper is issued as it used to - please keep on donating, but in lesser amounts. We will be looking for a way out considering the developments.

It's worth while reminding that in case the enterprise is closed, the money on its account doesn't disappear but is used for statute purposes.

Nasha Niva is being closed, but it has to go on as an edition read by thousands of people, as a national symbol.