IFJ condemns attempt to close local independent daily

Country/Topic: Belarus
Date: 30 September 2005
Source: International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Target(s): newspaper(s)
Type(s) of violation(s): harassed , other
Urgency: Threat

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

IFJ Condemns Belarusian Authorities Over Attempt to Close Local Independent Daily

The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the latest attempt to force the closure of the remaining independent daily in Belarus, the Narodnaya Vola.

Yesterday, Chyrvonaya Zorka, the state-owned printing house along with the state-run distribution systems informed the Narodnaya Vola that they will cancel their contracts beginning 1 October this year, effectively forcing the closure of the paper.

"This is the latest outrageous attempt by the authorities to destroy the remaining elements of independent media in Belarus," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ. "Unable to drive the paper out using fines, they have resorted to blunter methods using the state control of production and distribution systems to silence independent journalism."

The Narodnaya Vola had been fined 100 million Belarusian rubles (approximately 46,500 US$) in June for having reported that the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party had co-operated with Saddam Hussein's government. The paper had recently surprised the authorities by paying 70% of the fine.

The IFJ is supporting its affiliate in the country, the Belarus Association of Journalists in their accusations against the authorities of committing an illegal act and aiming to close down the paper in the midst of important social and political events.

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.