“It was the greatest surprise to learn last year that the authorities had taken a decision to get back two non-state newspapers to their state-owned press distribution systems. On the one hand, we feel happy for our colleagues, but
on the other hand we understand that the independent newspapers became a subject of trading, held by the Belarusian state authorities and the EU structures.”
Siarhei Vazniak, Editor-in-chief, “Tovarisch” weekly
Andrei Bastunets, Deputy Chairman, BAJ
“The Belarusian Internet has remained free so far. In my opinion, it is the main event of the year of 2008. Also, the “BELSAT” TV channel is working as before. It is another important event indeed.”
Ales Antsipenka, a media expert
After the Web-site of Belarusian Association of Journalists
The year of 2008 appeared to be highly complicated and controversial for the Belarusian journalism. Despite some positive changes at the end of the year, the main problems in the media field, including economic discrimination of independent periodicals, non-compliance of media-related legal norms with the democratic standards as well as restriction of access to information, weren’t solved in 2008.
The beginning of 2008 was especially worrying. Alaksandr Zdvizhkou, the “Zhoda” newspaper’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief was sentenced to three years of imprisonment for “stirring up religious strife” (part 2, article 130 of Belarus’ Criminal Code) on January 18, 2008.
The newspaper had been closed down by court upon a claim, submitted by the Ministry of Information of Belarus, for re-printing some “Danish caricatures” of Mohammed the Prophet in 2006.
On February 22, 2008, the Supreme Court of Belarus considered the penalized journalist’s appeal and reduced the term of his imprisonment to three months. A. Zdvizhkou was released from custody on the same day.