Thursday 25 August 2005

Commission supports independent broadcasting to Belarus

In Short: The international radio broadcaster Deutsche Welle will receive 138,000 euros from the Commission to air 'independent' programming to Belarus


* The EU's new neighbours

Brief News:

The Belarusian public's need for independent information was underlined by the fact that yet another independent newspaper, Den, was shut down on 22 August 2005 by the Belarusian authorities, the 20th over the last two years according to the Belarus Journalists Association.

The Commission funding will allow Deutsche Welle to broadcast 15 minutes of programming a day during the working week.

Citing the "strong stranglehold" on the Belarus media, a Commission spokeswoman said that that serious concerns about the human rights and democracy situation had made it necessary to "make available an independent source of information to the Belarusian people".

However, the chairman of the Belarusian Language Society has complained that Deutsche Welle will broadcast in Russian, not Belarusian.

Presidential elections are to be held in 2006, and President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country with an iron fist for 11 years, will run for office again.