Starting from August 2018 we, the Ukrainian media organizations, the undersigned, have been keeping a close eye on the BelTA case. Belarusian law enforcement agency accused 15 Belarusian journalists and editors of allegedly “unauthorized access to computer information” and causing financial losses to BelTA State News Agency.
On November 22 we learned that Marina Zolotova, the editor-in-chief of Tut.by online portal, was charged under part 2 of Article 425 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (inaction of an official). Marina Zolotova may face up to 5 years in prison.
We believe that a long-term work of a Tut.by portal is a good example of professional journalism in Belarus and the editorial staff activities have been appreciated by millions of readers in Belarus and abroad. We express our support to Marina Zolotova and feel solidarity with all Belarusian journalists and organizations supporting Tut.by editorial office these days.
We call on the Belarusian authorities to drop the charges against Marina Zolotova and other journalists, because we are sure that this precedent threatens free development of journalism in Belarus.
At the same time, we welcome the decision to release from criminal liability two other defendants in the case – their own Deutsche Welle correspondent Pavlyuk Bykovsky and the editor of Realt.by portal Vladislav Kuletsky.
We are convinced that Belarus seeks to become a full-fledged European country, where respect for freedom of speech is a fundamental value, and the functioning of independent media is the key to the democratic development of the country.
We call on the Belarusian authorities to abandon the practice of pressure on the Belarusian media and provide an opportunity for free functioning of online newsrooms.
Institute of Mass Information
Institute of Regional Press Development