The situation within the media space in Belarus in the run-up to the presidential elections became a topic for the round-table discussion that was held 15 July in Minsk, with the participation of politicians, journalists, and human rights activists.
The event was organised by the Analysis Centre "Strategy" and the National Committee of the UDF. Opening the round table, the chairman of the Committee Anatol Lyabedzka stressed that the main objective of the event was not simply to discuss the state of the independent media, but to work out a joint action plan for the election campaign.
"That will also be a big plus if we develop a single message for external recipients", said Anatol Lyabedzka.
The chairperson of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Zhanna Litvina stated that independent mass media to date managed to formulate their position on the coverage of the forthcoming elections. According to her, the independent press should become a platform for different political forces which will take part in the elections. The head of the BAJ also noted that independent media mustn’t be engaged in propaganda, but should be impartial. Besides, Ms. Litvina thinks that the elections should be used to "promote dialogue within the country".
The chairwoman of the BAJ also described the state of the independent press on the eve of the elections. According to her, problems are still the same – obstacles for distribution via the system of "Belposhta” and "BelSayuzDruk", limited access of journalists to information, particularly from public agencies, a lot of journalists having no accreditation, and increasing pressure on the media ahead of the presidential elections.
According to Zhanna Litvina, for these issues to be resolved, political will on the highest level is needed. The total weekly circulation of the independent press, according to the head of the BAJ, ranges from 600 to 700 thousand copies.