Narodnaya Volia Journalists Can’t Go Abroad
Employees of the independent newspaper Narodnaya Volia can not receive the stamp that permits to go abroad for three weeks already. The department for citizenship and migration explains, the documents are checked by the Committee for State Security (KGB).
Narodnaya Volia Deputy chief editor Maryna Koktysh and editorial team manager Anastasia Anishchanka applied to their local departments for citizenship and migration to continue the validity of passport stamps permitting to go abroad. Both of them paid 12 500 BYR for faster processing of the documents. However, they did not receive the documents on time.
“My problem was wrong employer”
“They told me the stamp was not in my passport yet. On my question why, the staff member said that my documents had been sent to the competent bodies – the Committee of State Security (KGB).
I asked for a complaint book and wrote that I paid taxes regularly and was not on the national and international search files. The main problem the migration department had with me was the wrong employer. However, Narodnaya Volia is a registered newspaper which is distributed all over Belarus.
I recommended to the staff of Maskouski district migration department to post a list of organizations, the employees of which should not ask for faster processing of their documents because they would be checked carefully, beside other requirements and law extracts. They told me they could not post such a list because that would be illegal”, -- Maryna Koktysh says.
“This is pressure on the newspaper and journalists”
The first secretary of the Ministry fo Internal Affairs Katsiaryna Samusenkava-Shelehava recommended RFE/RL should address the KGB about the situation. This is what KGB press secretary Valery Nadtachayeu said:
“this is the job of migration departments. You should ask them. I don’t know why you come to KGB with such questions”.
When we asked Pershamaiski migration department why the documents of Anastasia Anishchanka were processed so slowly, they immediately asked about her job.
“Where does she work?”
Sous: Narodnaya Volia newspaper
Official: This does not depend on us. We send the documents to a commission which considers the.
Sous: What is the commission?
Official: I can’t tell you that.
Sous: Do you know the term when she will be able to receive her passport?
Official: we process documents in 30 days
Deputy head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Andrei Bastunets stresses the fact that the Constitutional court made a decision about unlawfulness of such stamps. The government promised to cancel the stamps in 2008.
“According to the law, the stamp was to be a barrier for trips abroad for those who owe something to the state budget or had a relation to state secrets. Again we see how the authorities put pressure on certain newspapers and certain journalists, on people with a certain opinion”.
That contradicts the Constitution, Andrei Bastunets believes.