Belarus puts renewed pressure on journalists, 17 accreditations withdrawn

withdrawn the accreditation of at least 17 foreign journalists. Employees of, among others, the British broadcaster BBC, the German station ARD, the press agencies AP, Reuters and AFP and the American station Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty have to hand in their press cards immediately. A number of them have meanwhile been forced to leave the country. On what grounds their accreditation has been withdrawn is not clear.

Journalists have been a target of the authorities in recent weeks, following the fraudulent presidential elections and the outbreak of massive protests. Local and international journalists have been regularly arrested, especially in the last few days
The correspondent of the ARD was not with them at that time, but was later approached by the police. He was not taken to the station. The two Russian employees were expelled from Belarus and on their way to Moscow, the Belarusian producer is due to appear in court on Monday.

“Absolutely unacceptable”

Media organisations have reacted angrily to the actions of the Belarusian authorities. Programme Director Jörg Schönenborn of the German broadcaster WDR, who is responsible for the reporting of the ARD in Belarus, calls the state of affairs “absolutely unacceptable”

“This again shows that independent reporting in Belarus is becoming increasingly difficult, and almost impossible,” he says. “However, we will not be intimidated and we will do everything we can to ensure that our journalists can continue to report.”