The Opening of the Photo Exhibition ‘December 19 as Seen by Journalists’ in Brussels

The opening of the exhibition ‘December 19 as Seen by Journalists’ took place in Brussels on March 2, 2011. The event was organised by the Office for a Democratic Belarus and the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ).  The Permanent Representation of Sweden to the European Union hosted the event.

Ambassador Dag Hartelius stressed in his welcoming speech the importance of telling the story of December 19 in Minsk to a broader audience and thus to continue to keep the attention on the current developments in Belarus.

46 photos by seven Belarusian photographers have depicted several post-election events in Minsk on December 19, 2010. The photos illustrates thousands of peaceful demonstrators on the streets in Minsk, fully-armed riot police officers, protest crackdowns, severely beaten and injured protesters and journalists, but also solidarity actions outside of the detention centre and the release of some demonstrators. The photographers Ksenija  Avimava, Syarhei  Balay, Dzmitry  Brushko, Vadzim Zamirouski, Alyaksandr  Ziankou,  Uladzimir  Hrydzin, and Alyaksei Matsiushkou took photos on the Independence square in Minsk while the violence was escalating. Three of them came to Brussels to present their photographs.

The exhibition was followed by a briefing and discussion on the freedom of media in Belarus after the presidential election. Representatives of the Belarusian Association of Journalists who won the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize in 2004, Zhanna Litvina, Andrei Aliaksandrau and Andrei Bastunets described the worsening media situation in Belarus after the presidential election. They spoke about searches in mass media offices, confiscation of the equipment, interrogations of journalists by KGB and imprisonment. Further, three of the journalists still remain in custody since the post-election night; two of them without seeing  their lawyers since December 29. Thus, there is no information about their fates since that date.

A positive development in the current shocking situation is, according to Zhanna Litvina, the growing unity among journalists and the understanding of the importance of solidarity in the society. Independent media after the events on the December 19 are increasing in its popularity among Belarusians who are looking for other sources of information then from the government.
When expressing their views on prospects for the EU-Belarus relation, BAJ members called on freeze of all high-level political contacts with the Government of Belarus until all political prisoners in the country are released and the repressions come to an end. At the same time, they pleaded to representatives of the EU member states to not isolate the Belarusian society from the rest of Europe, but on the contrary to look for more openings and connections. Easier travel opportunities for ordinary Belarusians to the EU would play an important role in promotion of democratic values in their home country.

Olga Stuzhinskaya from the Office for a Democratic Belarus thanked in her closing remarks the Government of Sweden for its political stance towards Belarus, the long-term support to the civil society in Belarus and also the independent media.

The opening of the photo exhibition was organised in cooperation from the International Media Support and the International Federation of Journalists. A online version of the photo exhibition is available on the Office for a Democratic Belarus website.


Olga Stuzhinskaya, Zhanna Litvina

Andrei Aliaksandrau

Olga Stuzhinskaya, Ambassador Dag Hartelius

Ambassador Dag Hartelius

Photographer Siarhey Balay

Photographer Aliaksey Matsiushkou

Ambassador Dag Hartelius

Andrei Bastunets, Zhanna Litvina

Ambassador Dag Hartelius

Igor Tishin