Independent journalists in Krychau face obstacles in access to information
The executive authorities of Krychau district (Mahiliou region) are trying to restrict local journalists’ right to receiving information. In particular, local executive officials were ordered not to provide information to the reporters of the Volny Horad independent newspaper.
According to the Volny Horad editorial board, Illia Krautsou, head of Krychau KGB town department, said in September 2012 that executive officials could face problems in case they “disclose confidential data to third persons.” However, the KGB chief failed to specify which information should be considered “confidential”.
Illia Krautsou’s statement was aimed at intimidating the possible sources of information, says Volny Horad’s editor-in-chief Siarhei Niarouny.
"Yes, Illia Krautsou’s threats intended to complicate our work,” says Siarhei Niarouny. “However, we continue to stay abreast of
all the important events in the life of the region, so the intimidation by the
KGB head did not work. It should be noted that after the end of the election
campaign I have not received any more facts about such direct threats to officials.”
Mikalai Herdziy, reporter of the Volny Horad, who is the author of most high-profile articles, says that the authorities’ attempts to restrict journalists’ access to information have not ceased to this day.
"The same Illia Krautsou visited the departments and administrations of Krychau district executive committee and inquired who read the Volny Horad and how they assessed he content of information in it,” says Mikalai Herdziy. “First Deputy Chair of the executive committee of Krychau district Tatsiana Marachkova, who is also responsible for ideology, has consistently warned heads of the executive committee departments that no information should be provided to the journalists of the Volny Horad. However, all these threats and attempts to pressure the people are no longer active.”
One should not forget Article 34 of Belarus’ Constitution that runs as follows:
“Citizens of the Republic of Belarus shall be guaranteed the right to receive, store and disseminate complete, reliable and timely information on the activities of state bodies and public associations, on political, economic, cultural and international life, and on the state of the environment. State bodies, public associations and officials shall provide citizens of the Republic of Belarus with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with materials that affect their rights and legitimate interests. The use of information may be restricted by the legislation with the purpose to safeguard honour, dignity, personal and family life of the citizens and the full exercise of their rights.”