Updated at 20:54,07-12-2016

State Media Have Right to Criticize Opposition Candidates During Elections

The state media have the right to criticize "opposition candidates" during elections, Lidziya Yarmoshyna, head of the central election commission, said at a workshop on the role of the media in the election process.

Election authorities often receive complaints that government-controlled media outlets portray opposition candidates only in a negative light, but "the state media have the right to authorial bias and their own position, and they should not change it even during elections," Ms. Yarmoshyna said.

In the context of the election process, any journalist has the right to hold an opinion and "cover" it, said Natallya Pyatkevich, first deputy head of the Presidential Administration. "It depends on the journalist himself how correct this will be done," she added.

Freedom of information should be counterbalanced by the responsibility of the reporter, Ms. Pyatkevich said.

Any political campaign is a test for media outlets’ "ethics, professionalism and moral standards," she noted.

She called on the Belarusian media to have a “decent face” during the forthcoming local and presidential elections.