Valiantsin Stefanovich: Ministry of Information acting like "Ministry of Truth"

2015 2015-07-01T13:21:37+0300 2015-07-01T13:21:37+0300 en
Deputy Head of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich

Deputy Head of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich

As stated by the Information Minister Liliya Ananich, the Ministry of Information tries to teach the owners of Internet resources responsibility in the information space and attentively considers each application of citizens about the work of the media.

When asked to comment on the restriction of access to the popular site, including due to a columnist's opinion about the Victory Day, May 9, Ananich said: “The topic of the Great Victory and historical truth must be sacred for each Belarusian. Where sacred things start, there must be no space for insinuations or verbal abuse of anyone."

Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich points that the Ministry of Information takes too much responsibility: “The Ministry of Informatin starts acting like the “Ministry of Truth”. In the case of it states that there is some “historical truth”, which is, by the way, not a legal notion. What is the “historical truth” with regard to World War II? I believe that that assessment of historical facts can in no way present danger to the national security. Therefore, for me the decision to terminate access to the website is a case of censorship.

Since the beginning of the year the Ministry of Information has decided to restrict access to 26 Internet resources. A month ago, a warning from the Ministry was received by the Belarusian radio “Racyja”. Since the beginning of the year, 21 violation reports have been drawn up on Belarusian journalists for "illegal manufacture and distribution of media products". As a result, in each case the respective journalist was fined 20-50 basic units. Most often journalists were punished in the Homieĺ region (10 cases). The record holder here is a freelance journalist Kanstantsin Zhukouski. The number of cases is growing with every coming month. In Zhukouski's case, for example, the total sum of fines is fantastic – up to 20 million rubles. How can a man continue engaging in journalism is such circumstances. It is actually a ban on the profession,” commented the human rights activist.

As of now, we know that on July 9 and 10 Hlybokaye District Court will judge journalists Zmitser Lupach and Tatsiana Smotkina. Several days ago, civil society activists held an action of solidarity with Belarusian journalists – they posted on advert boards leaflets with calls to stop the harassment of journalists.