Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Belarus ranked last on Eastern Partnership media freedom list

Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

Belarus has again been ranked last among the six Eastern Partnership participating countries in a media freedom index compiled by Ukraines Internews with the support of the European Union, Andrey Bastunets, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), told reporters in Minsk on Friday.

Internews updates the index every quarter by interviewing 10 media experts in each of the six countries. The experts identify three positive and three negative developments in the country under review, among other things.

The report focuses on media freedom regulations, their enforcement, and the state of television, radio and online media outlets.

Since the release of the first report in March 2013, Belarus has always been ranked last, Mr. Bastunets said.

The events that took place in Ukraine between January and March 2014 were not taken into account by the authors of the most recent report, he said. Belarus may be replaced by Ukraine at the bottom of the list when the index is updated, Mr. Bastunets said. However, this will happen because the situation in Ukraine had gotten worse and not because Belarus record has improved, he said.

Alyaksandr Starykevich, another deputy chairman of the BAJ, said that Belarusian authorities should not be expected to change their bad attitude toward the independent media. He predicted that the government would increase its pressure on the non-state media ahead of the 2015 presidential election.

Belarusian authorities have to reason to tighten the screws at the moment because there is no political crisis in Belarus exacerbated by street protests, Mr. Starykevich said.