Experts on freedom of speech didn’t believe Pyatkevich
The international journalistic mission has a negative general impression of its visit to Belarus.
The international experts will make an official statement later, “”Yezhednevnik” reports.
Though representatives of international organizations dealing with mass media and freedom of press issues have repeatedly emphasized the aim of the visit wasn’t proving the Belarusians necessity of democratic reforms, but just lending support to national media, the guests have a negative general impression.
It especially concerns meetings with Belarusian officials. European director of the International Federation of Journalists Marc Gruber said telling about the meeting with first deputy head of Lukashenka’s Administration Natallya Pyatkevich they had failed to understand each other.
“The issues we touched were connected with the general structure of work of mass media in the country, press delivery system, access to information, and accreditation of journalists and mass media outlets. We also discussed TV and radiofrequency control and electronic media registration. We also spoke about the Lao on Mass Media, the Law on Countering Extremism, and some parts of the Criminal Code. She wasn’t surprised to hear these questions. But I had an impression she doesn’t understand well enough that media with different form of ownership are treated in different ways. For example, the Law on Mass Media. International journalistic organizations turned attention to its certain items last year. But Pyatkevich said there were no problems with the law. Or it was a problem of some independent media outlets that are not included in the delivering system. Her point of view was: “But they are not forbidden!” Marc Gruber said.
According to Rohan Asoka Jayasekera, Deputy Chief Executive of Index on Censorship, Natallya Pyatkevich didn’t draw attention or ignored some questions.
“I mean the moment when we were trying to find out a role of the so called ideology department in media environment. Or questions about different conditions on the media market for mass media with different forms of ownership,” he noted.
According to the representatives of the international journalistic organizations, they also touched an issue of privatization of state-run mass media. According to them, Pyatkevich admitted that this question was interesting, because it would allow the state to save some money. She said the issue would probably be considered later, but didn’t say the exact date.
The international mission also had a meeting with the leadership of Belsoyuzpechat company. We asked why they didn’t deliver some independent media. The answer wasn’t new. They said the reason wasn’t political, the problem was in absence of agreements between two economic entities, in other words, between Belsoyozpechat and editor of independent newspapers. According to Marc Gruber, the mission didn’t believe these statements.
The representatives of the international organizations plan to make an official statement on the results of the visit later. As Marius Lukosiunas, the Adviser for Communication and Information of the UNESCO Office in Moscow, explained, they need to analyze the information thoroughly and define a common position.