Updated at 20:54,07-12-2016

Will Not We Cope with Such Trifle as Lukashenka?

The Belarusian journalists Natalia Radzina, Iryna Khalip, Sviatlana Kalinkina, and Maryna Koktysh call colleagues from Belarusian and foreign mass media to show solidarity and to prevent the destruction of freedom of speech in Belarus. This was announced on April 29 at a press conference in the office of the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

The four journalists are being prosecuted in a criminal case brought up on charges of slander in the media towards the former head of KGB Department of Homel region Ivan Korzh. They were yet again summoned for interrogation to Pershamayski District Internal Affairs Department of Minsk.

"We finally learned the most important thing: there is no criminal case and no Korzh exists in principle. All this is just an invention. In reality, under these obscure names and obscure papers, there is a war on – a war to annihilate independent journalists, a war to obliterate independent web sites.

They are killing us. Now they are trying to kill us morally, professionally, trying to demoralise us completely. And if today we don’t do anything, they will soon begin to kill us physically. After March 16 we met with representatives of the European Union. We were assured that there would be a harsh reaction soon. But the reaction was such that it would have been better for it not to be at all. So it makes no sense to wait for an adequate reaction from Europe. There is a transit of oil and gas, cement, manure, and potatoes, and all this potato-manure business is more important than some freedom of speech, if the West needs gas to go through the tube without any hindrance.

Only journalists will save journalists, as experience shows. Remember how in 1997 we, journalists, achieved the release of Pavel Sheremet. This was done not by politicians, not by Boris Yeltsin. This was done by us. It is the journalists of the Austrian media that eight years later answered, finally, the question for which Valery Levaneusky served two years in prison: whose money did Lukashenka spend on vacation in Austria? So we can rely only on ourselves and our colleagues. That is why I want to appeal to my colleagues all over the world: thank you, colleagues, you are not indifferent to what happens to us, and we again need your solidarity.

I want the western media to realise that by placing advertisements of the companies that support the current regime in Belarus they indirectly take part in the destruction of freedom of speech. And Internet companies – Gmail, Yahoo, mail.ru, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, ICQ, Yandex, and others – must realise that not ours, but their accounts and mailboxes will be hacked. It is they that cannot ensure protection of correspondence which they declare.

We all, in fact, the whole world, must gather together and then won’t we cope with such a trifle as Lukashenka? Who is he? A small usurper. We together can get rid of him. We all should just begin to act in solidarity,"
said the correspondent of Novaya Gazeta Iryna Khalip at the press conference.