VIENNA, 5 January 2011 - The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, called today for an end to the attacks on independent media in Belarus and urged authorities to immediately release imprisoned journalists.
"I am deeply concerned by the unprecedented wave of violence, intimidation, arrests and prosecution of journalists that started in the wake of the 19 December 2010 presidential election," said Mijatovic in a letter to Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergey Martynov.
Irina Khalip, a correspondent for Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper, and Natalya Radina, the editor of the charter97.org website, were arrested and charged with taking part in and organizing "mass disorder". They both face prison terms of up to 15 years.
In addition, security forces raided the offices of the Nasha Niva newspaper, the European Radio for Belarus, and the Belsat television station. Several journalists working for these independent media outlets had their homes searched and equipment confiscated.
Mijatovic urged Belarusian authorities to put an end to these hostile actions against independent media and release Khalip and Radina immediately.
Mijatovic notified the Belarusian government that she is ready to visit Minsk in the near future to offer her Office's assistance in ensuring that Belarus meets its OSCE media freedom commitments.