Belarusian Media Monitors Criticize Coverage of Parliamentary Campaign

Text of report in English by Belarusian privately-owned news agency Belapan

Minsk, 10 September. Media coverage of the ongoing parliamentary campaign in Belarus is nearly as poor as of the previous one, Alyaksandr Antsipenka, the head of the media monitoring group of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, said at a news conference in Minsk on Tuesday [9 September].

There are a few minor differences, Antsipenka noted. "Firstly, in [Russian President] Vladimir Putin's words, the state media no longer bump the Belarusian opposition off in the toilet," he said. "Newspapers don't run incriminating features as they did during the 2004 parliamentary elections. The state media are more polite to election observers."

According to Antsipenka, representatives of the central election commission have been much more cooperative with both state and non- state media outlets seeking an interview.

"Elections, however, aren't about snack bars at polling stations and extensive coverage of the work of the central election commission," Antsipenka noted. "When we watch a play, the director is not present on the stage. So far, we have only seen the director, lighting technicians, and bit players and not the actors themselves, that is, parliamentary candidates and their voters, the main actors in the election process. The state media write very little about these actors."

Instead of trying to help voters make more informed choices, most state media reports highlight how well local authorities are preparing for the elections, Antsipenka said.

Originally published by Belapan news agency, Minsk, in English 1500 10 Sep 08.



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