The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) has condemned as false a report aired by the state TV channel Belarus One on February 5.
The report accused the organization of receiving funding from the British embassy in Minsk and failing to register the money with the Presidential Administration's property management department in violation of rules. The report featured images of papers allegedly containing information about the funding that carried no signatures or seals, as well as an anonymous letter from a former BAJ member who allegedly accused the organization of misusing funds.
When reached by BelaPAN on Monday, BAJ leader Zhanna Litvina said that she had never seen the papers and described them as fabricated. According to the woman, the channel failed to mention that in 2004 the BAJ won the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize that comes with a monetary award of 50,000 euros. The money was transferred to the organization's account and was spent by the BAJ on its activities and programs for several years.
Ms. Litvina described the report as discrediting and insulting and said that it had nothing to do with journalism.
"Our organization is a member of the International Federation of Journalists, it participates in international programs dealing with reporter training, the defense of our professional rights, problems relating to journalism ethics. After watching the report about the BAJ on Belarusian television, I am certain that it is Belarusian television's staff who need educational programs most. And their training should begin with the basics of journalism", Ms. Litvina said.
The BAJ has always sought to defend journalists' professional rights and promote generally accepted standards of journalism in Belarus, according to its leader. "What matters most is that by defending the rights of journalists, we defend the right of the public to receive timely, full and objective information", she stressed.
The BAJ may sue the channel over the report, Ms. Litvina said.