"Nasha Niva" publishes its 10 April issue with white spots to express solidarity with "Press-Photo of Belarus"
The private Belarusian newspaper "Nasha
Niva" removed all photographs from the front page of todays
issue and published a large heading: "Beware of Extremism!"
on the front page.
According to the newspaper editor Andrei Skurko, this was done to express protest against the attempts of the KGB to declare extremist the albums "Press-Photo of Belarus" for 2011.
"This is a protest reaction against the attempt to blow up another extremism case out of nothing. This would be an absurd case if our colleagues weren't summonsed to court and the security services didn't trike to present the album "Press-Photo of Belarus" as an edition containing extremist materials. We consider it as a violation of freedom of the press, an attempt of a crackdown on freedom of expression in Belarus, and think that it is necessary to react to it. That's why we chose such a way to draw the attention of our readers to this issue. "Press-Photo of Belarus" is a collection of photos, not even journalist materials. Photographers just register the reality, and the attempts to impose one's vision on photographers and tell them what to shoot and what not to shoot would look ridiculous in the civilized world. The authorities are trying to teach journalists how and what to do. If we don't react to such excesses today, somebody may decide to bring a new case, similar to the case of the Union of Liberation of Belarus (as in 1930-ies), look for "public enemies", etc. That's why we think that it is absolutely necessary to react," said Andrei Skurko.
The albums "Press-Photo of Belarus", confiscated by the Belarusian customs office last year, were found extremist as a result of an expert examination conducted by the staff of Hrodna State University and the local ideologists. The court proceedings were initiated by the KGB.
Photographers Yuliya Darashkevich (an organizers of the "Press-Photo of Belarus" contest), Vadzim Zamirouski and Aliaksandr Vasiukovich have been summonsed to the trial, which will take place in Ashmiany on 17 April, as an interested party.