Posted on Aug 24, 2020
Following a strike, reporters, news anchors and technicians are quitting their jobs at Belarusian state-owned news companies en masse. In the troubled aftermath of the presidential election. the country’s embattled president, Alexander Lukashenko, announced that their roles have already been taken up by Russian media workers, presumably those employed by Russian state-controlled “news” outlets.
“I've even asked Russians to lend me reporters to cover the president's work and set an example of good work. I know these people”, Lukashenko said.
During the strike, state-run Belarus Today (BT) broadcast on air an empty studio as a sign of their protest.
31-year-old Vadim Shundalov, who was at BT for five years before he left on August 13th now calls himself “a coward” for not walking away earlier. “Now, everything has become just lies, lies, lies and lies,” he told Euronews. “It is not true that 80% voted for Lukashenko. Those votes have been stolen.
"It is a job with financial stability, and you just make peace with that and keep working. But this year, my conscience said that enough is enough.”
Alena Martinovskaya, a director at state TV and radio channel Belarus 3, said in a video uploaded by Belorussian news source TUT.BY "Today, my colleagues and I went to the work building around 9 am. There was an officer standing guard. He asked where I am going, and I said, 'To work.' He said, 'Please show me your license' and asked for my surname.
"Then he said, 'You're on the blacklist, and we cannot let you in.' I asked, 'Why?' And he said, 'Just because.' Then the officer said, 'Call your boss to confirm what's going on”.
According to the constitution, press in Belarus is free. However, Reporters Without Borders says the country's journalists do not enjoy so much freedom.
It is also increasingly difficult to get a work permit for foreign journalists or local journalists who don't work for Belarusian state media.
“In Belarus, critical journalists and bloggers are threatened and arrested, leading news sites are blocked, access to information is restricted, and media diversity is unknown. The state exercises total control over all TV channels,” the organisation said.
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