The Belarusian media view the House of Representatives elections as a political ritual with a predetermined outcome, not as an important event worth highlighting, Ales Antsipenka, head of the monitoring group of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), told reporters in Minsk on Tuesday.
In the period between July 31 and August 17, the group monitored the coverage of the elections by 17 electronic and print media outlets. The period spanned important stages of the election campaign such as the formation of election commissions and the nomination of parliamentary contenders.
According to Mr. Antsipenka, the government-controlled media covered the election campaign during the period under review "in a traditional manner, that is, they paid less attention to the elections than to the weather and sports."
The central election commission was the main focus of the government-controlled media’s coverage of the elections, whereas their coverage of opposition political parties whose representatives are taking part in the elections was minimal, Mr. Antsipenka said. "They were mentioned in a negative or extremely negative fashion if mentioned at all," he noted. One of the main features of the coverage of the elections by the government-controlled media were directly opposite representations of the authorities and opposition forces, as well as of election observers representing the Commonwealth of Independent States and Western observers.
According to him, independent media outlets covered the elections in a more balanced way and did not limit themselves to using information from government sources. "However, given the space earmarked by the independent press for the elections, this subject has not yet become a priority for them," he said.